The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Background noise

I’m a city girl and I love living and working right in the centre of the action. One of the great joys of being freelance is having the flexibility to nip out and do things during the day, so having everything nearby is a real bonus. As I tend to work in short bursts of 1-2 hours (to help manage my RSI), I can easily go out for a quick swim - the pool’s just five minutes’ walk away - I can meet a friend for coffee in one of the many nearby cafes, as I did yesterday afternoon in glorious sunshine, or I can just nip out to the post office or to a local deli for an afternoon cake.

One of the main downsides of being located so centrally though is the noise. Most of the time noise is passing, lorries heading down the little lane at the side of the house to deliver to the back of the shops and restaurants on the main road or groups of schoolchildren walking past on their way home. I quite like the background hum of life going on around me. Occasionally though, it becomes an intrusion. This week work has started on the building right next door to convert it into a big new pub. It was a bar before and the actual ‘pub’ part of the building is on the main road some way away, but the back of the building, the kitchen and access, is right next door to us. This week, there've been workmen in from 7am to 7pm every day ripping out the old fixtures and fittings and dumping them into skip after to skip. Having been out to chat to them, it turns out the building work is due to last eight weeks! The volume of noise varies through the day and during relatively quiet patches, I persuade myself it's not too bad, then the scaffolders arrive and start erecting clanking metal scaffolding right outside my office window or another skip turns up and clatters its way to the pavement – grrr!
Scaffolding creeping up outside my window :(

Today’s been a particular nightmare as I’ve been trying to conduct webinars with all the chaos going on in the background! Thankfully, the weather has cooled somewhat, so I was able to shut all the windows without completely baking and I don’t think the clanging and swearing of the builders was picked up by my mic, but even so, it was damned off-putting and a distraction I could’ve done without.

I have been thinking of renting some office space elsewhere for a few weeks, but I'm really not an office type of girl. Having to go out all day and work in long blocks uninterrupted would wreak havoc with my RSI and I'm just not sure how creative/productive I could be sitting in a ‘foreign’ environment. I'm so used to pottering around the house, talking to myself or wandering round Sainsbury's while I mull over ideas.    So I guess I’ll just have to put up with the noise and try not to let it become a stress.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Appropriacy or appropriateness?

This morning, I was putting together the slides for a webinar about teaching academic vocabulary I'm doing on Thursday and in talking about the choices learners make when deciding which is the best word to use, I had a category that included ideas such as register and connotation, i.e. the most appropriate word for the context. I wanted a general heading for this section, but then came to a stop over whether to use appropriateness or appropriacy. My first instinct was that appropriateness felt a bit awkward and cumbersome to say, whereas appropriacy felt neater, more concise. As a "language professional" though I'm always wary about making silly linguistic gaffes, so I thought I'd better check. 

I checked the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary first and, slightly to my relief, found it includes both - so I wasn't going completely mad. Oddly though, appropriacy has its own entry (with two senses; 1 "the extent to which something is suitable acceptable", 2 "the extent to which a word or phrase sounds correct and natural in relation to the situation it is used in"), whereas appropriateness is just a run-on at the end of appropriate. Unsure as to whether there was some difference of meaning or usage that I was missing, I went to the OED online and I was rather taken aback to find that appropriacy doesn't feature at all there! Now, my interest piqued, I went on to check Collins online and this time it was there, but interestingly, only in the sense of the right word for the context. I was tempted at this point to head off and consult a corpus, but with more pressing things to be done, I resisted the urge!

In such circumstances, I usually have confidence in my own intuition, provided I know I'm not completely wrong. Somehow this time though, I wavered and went for the "safer" option. Thus I now have a slide headed appropriateness, which I just know I'm going to stumble over pronouncing ...

[If you'd like to tune in and find out, there's still just enough time to register here, if you're quick.]

Labels: , , ,