Category Archives: language

Do people really speak like that?

Belfast landscape heads by David "Creative" McClelland.

Dialogue springs forth fully formed from the mouths of the regulars in my favourite pub. It’s very odd. This isn’t how people really speak surely?

Normal speech is hesitation, prevarication, vagueries, misunderstanding, repetition, replete with em-ing and er-ing. Isn’t it?

But what I heard while perched at the bar sounded honed by Elmore Leonard. It can have/seem to have an aggressive edge to it. (See here for a foreigner’s view.)

This snatch of speech begins as the fella on my left hand explains that he drinks in the pub most weekdays, at which point fella on my right hand jumps in…

LEFT: I drink here most lunchtimes.

RIGHT: Why?

LEFT: Because I can.

Pause.

LEFT: I’m drinking for one now…

RIGHT (interrupting forcefully): No! Never explain. You were a hero there. The hero in films never explains himself. It’s just bang, here it is, this is it. For 45 seconds there, you were a hero. But you blew it. Continue reading

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A diatribe on dire and dreadful English

The Vernons Girls and the Beatles. Poor old Ringo, nobody wanted to sit on his knee.

No! This is NOT a rant from an Irish man against the English. Nor indeed against anyone bearing that surname. It’s not even by me.

It’s a guest post from eminent Blackwatertown reader Nigel Morgan, who’s English himself.

It’s his heartfelt cry to the heavens about the corruption of the English language. But is he right?

A DIATRIBE ON THE DIRE AND DREADFUL!

“How are you?” I innocently asked Continue reading

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Firm rump, lean thighs and great tongue

Firm-Rump – Lean Thighs – Great Tongue.

Bit cheeky putting that on a recruitment noticeboard, isn’t it?

Especially in Continue reading

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Does this make me an arse?

"I just hope I didn't hear you making fun of my name..."

Well. This is embarrassing.

When I asked you all if my response to a street sign meant I was a snob – it turns out that Ursula was right. Except for the “smart” part. It meant I’m an arse.

I blame Maxi for my humiliation. She encouraged me to find out the humiliating truth.

And Laurie can nod knowingly to herself. She sussed out the real picture from the beginning.

So… you remember that sign I was poking fun at for mispelling “daley bread”. You might recall my hoity toity pernickety I’m-not-buying-bread-there-they-can’t even-spell snobby attitude.

Yup, that sign.

Well. You’ll never guess the surname of the people who run the premises?

Mmm. Yes. They’re called Smith.

Phew. Thank goodness for that.

The End.

Actually. No.

Following Maxi’s UNHELPFUL comment (“If it were me though, I would be in there tryin’ out the bread, would have to know”) I pushed open the door and Continue reading

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Does this make me a snob?

I often pass this sign, but I never go inside. Does that make me a snob?

I’m aware of the value of sometimes tweaking the rules. That a market stall sign declaring Fresh Melon’s may attract attention and business, precisely because of its grammatical inaccuracy.

I’ve occasionally employed the deliberate mistake tactic myself. When a radio phone-in is slow to attract calls Continue reading

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The the impotence of proofreading

Bigger this for a grim of soul yours. My spill chick seems to heave gone wring. You shoed really wodge this shirt phlegm. Space lee if your a right hair. It’s vary fanny.

Reminds me a bit of ‘Allo ‘Allo! and all this sort of thing.

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How many different words for snow, death… and farts?

Eskimos and Inuit are reputed to have many/seven/50/100 different words for snow. Though it may be a tundric myth. (And anyway, don’t we have snow, blizzard, sleet & slush – OK that’s only four, and I’m not sure about the last two.)

But anywhere with an unusually high number of different words detailing aspects of a phenomenon interests me. It evokes poetic lists. Like these from Belfast poet Michael Longley – The Ice-Cream Man.

Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:

You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before

They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road

And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.

I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren

I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,

Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,

Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,

Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,

Yarrow, lady’s bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.

You can listen Continue reading

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How to come back from being burned at the stake

This isn’t about the furious row, nor the racism (real or imagined) that preceded it, nor the burning at the stake that followed it. It’s about the unexpected good thing that happened next. Continue reading

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This is funny writing

This is very funny writing. You don’t need to know the characters or the context to enjoy it.  But there’s a guide to the dramatis personae at the bottom just in case.

George Osborne’s dry and dusty reception at the Treasury committee – The chairman became so dry one feared if the sun came out his body might crumble into a yellow pile (by Simon Hoggart)

George Osborne, the chancellor, was in playful mood when he appeared at the Treasury committee. By contrast, the committee chairman, Andrew Tyrie, was dry. Dry as autumn leaves blowing across a deserted country lane. Dry as a cask of Manzanilla sherry. As dry as an Egyptian mummy’s armpit. Continue reading

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Politics time again (to quote Buju Banton)

Time for some politics. Three stories. Two American, one British.

  • One is sad but true.
  • Another rings very true, but is, in fact, just silly.
  • The third might be true. I’ve no idea.

But which is which?

1. Sauce for the goose, but not the gander. This quote from Peter Schmuck, a Baltimore sports writer, concerning the indictment of Roger Clemens (left), a baseball player in the USA who allegedly lied to Congress about taking steroids:

“Isn’t it great to live in a society where the penalty for lying to a Congressman can be up to 30 years in jail, but the penalty for a Congressman lying to you is another two years in office?”

I’m not sure what the going rate for lying Congresswomen is.

Hey. This is what came up when I put AWNAA in Google images. Er... perhaps.

2. Finally a bill we can all support: The AWNAA Act of 2010

Washington, DC – Congress is considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans: The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition. Continue reading

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