Monday, 29 April 2013

Words, Words, Words

By Any Other Name

They christen him John then they call him Jack!
Can anyone tell me why?
And boys named Charles are Charlie or Chuck!
It's enough to make you cry.

Frances was Fanny, years ago;
now don't you think that's sad?
Women named Maureen are still called Mo
but I guess that's not so bad.

I understand Michael being Mick,
it's simply quicker to say,
but then you get Richard becoming Dick
in a most illogical way.

Dorothy once became Dolly or Dot;
Cecilia was Cissie, poor soul.
Minnie was Minerva sometimes, or not,
and Ellen took Nellie; how droll!

William is nice and sounds better than Bill;
Edward is shortened to Ted.
Henry is Harry but also Hal;
more creative than Frederick's Fred.

Molly was Mary and Jenny was Jane,
Ann became Nancy or Nan;
Margaret got Peggy which I can't explain
and I don't know if anyone can.

But Elizabeth really has me in a tizz:
there's Betty and Bessie and Beth;
with Libby and Lizzie, Eliza and Liz,
they've contracted the poor thing to death!



Given that Egyptology is the study of things Egyptian,
shouldn't parisology have something to do with France?
But no, parisology means: equivocal,  uncertain,
using ambiguity; misunderstood, perchance.

And, while I'm being pedantic here, the pronunciation's bogus;
the letter "g" in such a word has suffered in translation.
Seeing as how the end of it is from the Greek word logos
shouldn't the "g" be, not as in ledge, but hard, as in delegation?

I suppose that came from French, a language tortuously vocalic,
which altered the way we English spoke, created the great divide.
With Viking ancestry in the north and southerners speaking Gallic,
no wonder the English language has most people mystified.

So parisology is a word that fits its definition:
something that isn't what it appears, misleading and confusing,
from parisos, which is also Greek, meaning equal in composition,
it isn't the kind of word I like and not one I'll be using!

© 2005

 Learning To Read

I'm having to learn to read again:
at my age, a vision of hell.
It's all this texting kids do now;
they've forgotten how to spell.

To be addressed as m8 is bad enough.
or be asked "y r u here? "
At least I can make out how that works,
the meaning is pretty clear.

"Whats ur name", I understand,
"itd be nice", well enough,
though a total lack of apostrophes
can sometimes make things tough.

But when someone asked for my ASL
- that took me a while to decode,
I had to ask someone in the end -
I thought my brain would implode!

My what? My who? Speak English please!
I'm far too old for all this.
I know a few languages, just a bit,
but this is taking the piss.

© 2010

Words Words Words

The English have some problems with a lot of Americanisms;
I try remaining neutral to avoid too many schisms.
I understand that that pavements here are "sidewalks" over there
but if lifts are "elevators" what do they call moving stairs?
Foodstuffs cause no end of grief, discrepancies abound,
though I think that we both weigh things by the same old-fashioned pound.
Biscuits here are cookies there, their biscuits are our crackers
while crackers there are biscuits here! Now keep up there, you slackers.

Clothes can be confusing, be careful what you say;
you need to know the difference if you're not to lose your way.
Their jumper is a dress and not the woolly underneath.
Our braces hold our trousers up, they wear them on their teeth!
Instead they use suspenders to stop their pants descending,
but pants to us are panties there.  It all seems never-ending.
Suspender belts for socks or stockings, not much in it there,
but why is theirs a "garter belt"? Where is the garter? Where?

Panty hose are what they call the things that we call tights;
designed for use with mini skirts to stop some saucy sights.
Brassiere is shortened here to bra, as you will know,
but lingerie is lingerie most everywhere you go.
Ladies' knickers, underwear, is still seen as a word;
(there it's short for knickerbockers, worn by boys I've heard).
We used to call them bloomers too, invented, goes the rumour,
by an early lady cycling fan,  one Miss Amelia Bloomer.

With cars it's fairly logical; a bonnet and a hood
are pretty much the same and should be quickly understood.
The trunk is obvious really, with historical foundation,
but while a "boot" sounds strange perhaps, it's down to derivation.
A muffler in the States is just a silencer, don't laugh -
'cause we wear mufflers round our necks to keep out winter draughts.
And while we cook with gas, their autos have it in their tanks.
Our cars run on petrol. Yes, ok, I know that, thanks.

Here we transport stuff in lorries, some articulated,
while they have trucks I understand, to get things shipped or freighted.
Still I get confused and to my dictionary scamper;
an SUV's a 4x4? An SRV's a camper?
A caravan's a trailer, but is a tent a tent?
And if I wanted walking boots would they know what I meant?
What they call an apartment, would here be called a flat,
and I'm not talking tyres here, or tires, come to that.

One other thing that puzzles me, however hard I look,
is how on earth a handbag got to be a "pocketbook".
"Purse" I can understand, it makes some sense at least,
but a "pocketbook" is really an unlikely sort of beast.
I've never seen one pocket sized however large your dress
though a pocket once was separate, so that's logical I guess.
But think about the second bit: whether wide or flat
it hasn't any pages! What sort of book is that?

© 2004


I wonder why men find it so very hard
not the item itself, but to name it.
Are they afraid of the technical term
or is it just so they can blame it?

It's often referred to as Willie or Dick
like they'd speak of a friend or relation
but what would they think if we women began
to see ours as a separate creation?

A woman who talked of her Betty or Sue
would be thought of as more than alarming
yet the names that men call it are really quite gross
why can't we invent something charming?

So come on you ladies with delicate tastes
who prefer euphemisms to "porn"
let's think of some pleasant alternative words
for the place where our babies are born.

(And  I don't mean Hospital ! )

© 2004

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