Category: Linguistics


Clashnicity

Clashnicity n. a person’s ethnicity as rounded to the nearest decimal place.

Derivatives: Clashonality n. as above, for a person’s nationality.


Examples:

  • Palestindian
  • Boskistani
  • Lebanyptian
  • Thairish
  • Pakashmiraqi
  • Portugarab
  • Chingitaiian

Open Forum: ‘Feminazi’

Feminazi noun [_______________________________________________________]

Trick or Treat!

” furkid noun a domestic animal that is treated as if it is its owner’s child – There is a movement among some animal lovers to proscribe the use of ‘pet’ as it is demeaning to the animal. Preferred terms include ‘companion animal’ and ‘furkid’, the latter conferring on the animal a status equivalent to that of the owner’s child. Some pets might consider this a demotion in status.

(Foyle’s Further Philavery – A Cornucopia of Lexical Delights collected by Christopher Foyle)

The ozone burst as snow smothered the falling rust flakes and firework shards cut through the world war smog, decapitating the Night. Terribly menacing yobjobs scoffed at egging and battering as worthy tricks in exchange for any lack of treat. Of course not – keys, cars, banging, doors, money, teenagers – as opposed to knocking for sweets at eight in cute troops of white sheets and Dracula teeth and ooOOooing being the only trick they could really muster in response to a bowl of tangerines at the door.

One pack, a yobjob short, sat bent over a wall rising up through the concoction of mist. Puffs of white carried through the pinned air their rolling mumbles and chuckles. A grey hooded head tipped back as its arms tugged at a leash and a colossal, snarling dribble face silhouetted against the mellow daunt…

Toobaa had never been allowed to go out and ‘beg’ for food and money, not even with a grown up. In another place, at a lighter hour:

“It keeps them happy doesn’t it?” Pretty scarecrow lady winked at Toobaa as they shuffled onto the 275, the three – no – four of them now stitched with the invisible thread available to strangers who venture into conversations at a bus stop.

Had she been Nily of the Land, Toobaa would have eagerly pasted the poor would-be-hooligan boy with the cross breed puppy with questions of its diet, lifestyle, place of birth and why’s. Instead, she simply smiled when his half-chain-leather lead pulled taut at her ankles as he knitted himself through bus-waiter’s legs trying to make for squashed chips on the dirt smeared ground.

“It won’t grow into one of those enormous… things, will it?” Brown boy’s innocence and patience, as unexpected as it was owing to the street garb, was becoming more apparent. Scarecrow lady’s questions and friendly verbal prods coaxed the little black (slightly dirty) creature back into brown boy’s arms and nuzzling forcefully at his pocket for treats.

Brown boy opened up slowly, shy at first by his display of affection and care for this thing not limb to him being so obvious. “Erm… My sister… paid £150 of the money… but I… paid most of it. …He’s a special cross breed… The only one.” His tone had a childish upturn at the break of every sentence and his nods went on to confirm to scarecrow lady that his entire routine must have now changed and must revolve around responsibly caring for his new friend.

Toobaa admired the undying sense of occasion as she greeted her canaries with peace and childish merriment at every coming and going. They twittered and chirruped loudly whenever she was around; they knew when treats and food were ahoy and hopped about at their treat dish; they created a rainforest of sweet song out of every call to prayer and always competed with the vacuum cleaner, talking guests and the X Factor. Snicket constantly serenaded Snoopy by sliding down his cage bars and unsuccessfully tweeting sweet nothings until he reached the bottom.

They were tiny, yellow, weightless bubbles of treasure. Like the vision of The Golden Compass, young people ought to be encouraged to have pets from as early as possible and treat them, somewhat, like their souls, save those who exhibit / transfer abusive behaviour patterns, in which case, they ought to have therapies first. Toobaa shook her head gravely at the Nintendo DS pet-a-dog/cat/other animal games dancing through the TV screen and, instead, basked in the compassion that her (and brown boy’s) furkids’ self professed and happy dependence cultivated.

I’m not sure whose guise the anti-Christ is in nowadays as it’s all rather oxy-moronic. In any case, she’s decided to refer to ‘Islamists’/’Fanatics’/’Extremists’ (all the heavy words that have masses of lost meaning) as being involved in ‘anti-Islamic activity’.

On the face of it- I like. After years of trying to push poo up a hill, finally someone realised that they were trying to do it with a toothpick. ‘Talso suggests that such anti-social behaviour is equally rejected by all wholesome Hovis eating people as true Islamic ethics [note how I am forced to always prefix Islam with ‘true’/’genuine’/’proper’/etc] are akin with universally accepted principles of human interaction and, hence, everyone can understand why they are ‘anti-Islamic’. I may end up using this.

“We can’t offer you a training contract.” “Tut. That’s so anti-Islamic.” “There are no more Roasted Onion and Sweet Balsamic Vinegar crisps left.” “How anti-Islamic is that!” “You look fat.” “Anti-Islamic swipe…”

On the other hand. Directly linking terrorisers with Islam could act, somewhat, as a double pronged highlighter, which is what the previous choice of words did- and what the new choice of words also do! Once it was Islamists, now it is Anti-Islamic. It suggests that, whichever is the rule or the exception, only Moslemators can be tewwowists. We’ll need different anti-somethings for every kind of bad-fear-hurt-creator. Thugs in the street harassing Dot Cotton are anti’s. Menacing kids are anti’s (ASBOs are still anti’s). Bank robbers are anti’s. Fraudsters are anti’s. Wife beaters are anti’s. San Quentin inhabitants are ANTI’s. Husband bashers are anti’s. And Ariston. Let’s call them all Anti-Islamic and and and then that will mean everyone else is IslamIC.

There are so many possibilities to coin a new word here- a new word that describes this phenomenon of the pain-spreaders of our generation. We may have to resort to dystopian novel-ly language and it might make this an even more inflamed bottom era to be alive in. Sigh. I hope at least one person keeps a comprehensive personal journal that will not be published fifty years from now because history will only be kept in 50ft deep cellars and the rest of it will be gone.

Obiter Dictum

And thus, it does commence: Law School for the diligently flavoured Arabist. 0900 hours until 1800 hours a day. And then a whole lot more. And yes, I [the Arabist] am now required to stop using my poetic licence by starting sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’ and to employ plain English and Latin phrases which, my Noddies, are not just translations- oh no. They are regal embodiments of entire philosophically decided doctrines and precisely travelled histories in themselves. And let us not forget the double negation, the triple negation, the nonsensical brain freezing negation. Even the canteen is persistent in trying the oaths we made to ourselves when committing to offer up our nesses [nesses] for the sake of the sitting sweet court structure concepts.

HOT WATER ONLY IS NOT AVAILABLE FROM THESE MACHINES

If Boro Pat saw this sign at the tea machine in his cafe, there would be words- angular and punchy Northern words. Spuggeh. Harry II did warn me about the plain English demands as he neeeooowed through the foreign lands, carrying his bursting acting career (aaakh thu) in his backpack.

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I shan’t defend badger killers. I shall defend my right to bloj ultra vires exhaustion. I shall employ the Latin, be it erroneous or not. I shall be the scribe of my land using the ink of my eye and maintain my right to be perfectly articulate in the bounds of my externally abstracted picket fence.

My resolution stands wisely, tall and powerful with mud grimed over the bottom of its legs in a heroic and admirable manner. It is, after all, the aftermath of an over hyped test. Holland and Webb and the Induction Manual, both concreted believers in their opposing take on the ‘fact’, faced one another in stalemate. But which to take as my advisory ally? And which to tear up insanely? I visualise glowing diagrams and revise with catatonic gestures, re-mapping the images, voodooed in the air and leaving it out in the atmosphere for later reference.

Noor, on the other hand, had consolidated detailed knowledge of the workings of the entire English Legal System into four succinct digits. But then, he saw the sign in the canteen which knocked the four numbers clean out of his head and he had to write them in thickly spreading ink on the panicked palm of his hand in order to remember them.

But this, right here, is my space. And, here, I can start with ‘and’ and ‘but’ [but never without a capital letter] and not cross them out when two negatives don’t make a positive and stop grinding my teeth at The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

“S. 2 (1) A person is guilty of an offence if-

[…]

(d) he uses for the purpose of killing or taking a badger any firearm other than a smooth bore weapon of not less than 20 bore or a rifle using ammunition having a muzzle energy of not less than 160 foot-pounds and a bullet weighing not less than 38 grains.”

Mike kills a badger using a smooth bore weapon of 18 bore. Has an offence been committed?

Jane kills a badger with a rifle using ammunition with muzzle energy of 170 foot-pounds and a bullet weighing 45 grains. Has an offence been committed?

Idols : Sweet Nothings

It had come to us on a long, flat and shiny red box from Manchester. Sanam Sweets. Mithai so gloriously luxurious and thick, with its sweetness so intricately woven with saffron, that one could not find the like of its silk anywhere else, ever. Hence, the delectables had come to us from Manchester.

Ordinarily, hearing the word sanam would conjure to my simple link welding mind the moving image of Rishi Kapoor in a multicoloured sweater, aeroplaning down a snow caked mountain to his chandni (moonlight) and miming, so out of sync it was impressive, to the Bollywood song that would include, as many of them do, the term of endearment: sanam.

‘It means darling.’

Mother would always ponder a little before responding to our linguistic queries, having to approximate the meaning of words we would never have any use for, such as mehbooba, sanam, jaaneman, etc, etc. She would always pause, tap her finger once or twice on the rim of her mug and appear to be scanning handwritten notes suspended invisibly before her, but she always said the same. ‘It means darling.’ Darling. In those moments, we felt a slight twinge of guilt for having unstuck her from her absorbing dose of the des (homeland), forcing her back to the monochrome space of the pardes (foreign land) where it was a motherly duty to translate the meanings of words such as sanam. Of course, back ‘home’, you just knew what it meant, and there was more time for children to go about their own devices and mothers to forego this duty.

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So it was the long, flat and shiny red box from Manchester. For the first time, sanam conjured none of the above. This was the first time I had seen it written. It was a large gold foil printed script, as if the knowledge it would cunningly plant on me was a secret message, minor in its immediate importance, regal in the relevance of its existence. The letter Sad, was the traitor. In Urdu, there is little need for distinguishing between the two hissing letters, seen and sad, as the sweetness of this tongue did not allow such discrepancies to round the hollow of the mouth to one as haughtily explosive as that which the sad required. Seen (س) as in ‘sun’ and sad (ص) as in ‘sword’. So where there was a sad, I knew that, in Urdu, it would still be pronounced as a seen, and yet the word itself had to have its origins in Arabic.

My mind set down the peppermint tea and the living room and traveled the regular path from Urdu, through Persian, to Arabic, carrying the word by the scruff of the neck and trying to locate its village of birth, its cause for diffusion, its path of transmission, the basis for its semantic shift… There were several faltering seconds where my internal lexicon refused to open, its pages congealed in a sweat of panic and obstinate denial. Sanam! Singular of Asnām! Idol!

صنمٌ اصنامٌ    sanam pl. asnām idol, image

(Upon the authority of Hans Wehr, Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Ed., Cowan, J. M., 1976)

Rishi Kapoor was running faster now, his smile stretched, frozen, insane. His heroine stood someway down, twirling her birdlike drapes of ludicrously thin cloth and as they met, they stepped into matching choreography of shimmying asymmetrically back and forth, miming, ‘Oh my idol, I swear by you…!’

Who had authorized this semantic triple jump? Where could I contact this person? It seemed pointless to direct my anger at what was, probably, the long buried bones of an unknown community of well intentioned individuals living at one end of a river which carried the trade of goods and words. I already knew the depth and vastness of Arabic words, roots and devices in Urdu. It had, after all, been me who insisted that Urdu was, in fact, an Arabic dialect. But the deceit had directed me towards a filing cabinet, where all the words I had not suspected, sat row after row in alphabetical order, now guilty until proven innocent, awaiting their final destination in my minds linguistic family tree.

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However, the threat of the sad, and at least nine other letters of similar status, takes a backseat as the matter of the disguised idol elbows its way to the front of the theatre and the lights dim for it to take the spotlight at centre stage. Take the example of a High Street North in East Ham, or any street laden thick with masjids and temples, on almost every corner, facing one another in somber reserve: to you is your faith and to me is mine, and notice how, just after noon on a Friday, you will see the sight of flowing robes, thawbs, dotis and jeans; headcaps, beards, white face paint and red dots; you will see how they eagerly make pace to worship an omnipotent force, in truth unbound by tangible form, the ultimate brewing entity. Eagerness and passion. Submission of the will to the highest conceivable force.

Surely, discerning between the breakable and the divine brewing entity, much beyond our comprehension,  is just the beginning, immeasurably essential, but just the start. The nature of disguised idols, that which causes one to compromise his covenant, are unique for every individual. Usually, it’s just money. Whatever they are, they are on the prowl in ones personal space. Seriously, on the prowl.

[Thank you to Oz, Hafsa, K, HMH, Imran, Bobby, Rieanne, Omar and Luqman for your comments.]

Rapunzel

I sat staring from my bedroom window at the new rooftops, red with embarrassment at the mental assylum they had replaced. My own personalised looming lookout point, situated at the highest point of the highest tower  of the highest house on the highest hill. I threw my hair down and out of the window. Then I waited but nothing happened.

So hauled it all back in and, instead, I have been consumed with experimenting with moody film noir techniques, wondering all the time where my tripod is, learning to infuse lavender oil because I hear it’s good for the hair, mostly arguing with poorly informed Brownie associations who I often leave speechless and promising me that the manager will call back personally, trying to figure out who left the black olive to roll into the cutlery drawer and why everybody doubts my strawberry and basil smoothie-coolie-juice addition and then loves it when they do try it, not to mention thinking about where Harry II is performing nowadays, how many pyramids Deeja has confronted and whether she has a suitable hand-fan for the job, does the Maggy-Bird live where I sent her her very own voodoo doll, who knows how to convert SWF to MPG, when I’m going to have lunch, when I’m going to have lunch with Fun, remembering to get superglue tomorrow morning to fix the broken finger on my delicate mannequin hand, musing over what drunken astronauts are doing fizzing around the atmosphere and why some people just cannot let things go and how many shots Aussie would get by sitting in every tree in the park. Photographic shots, you know. At least I’ve decided I’d like to leave my tower. Enough vegetables have been peeled and plenty of spinning has been spun, at least for now.

Another thing I haven’t thought about, but others have and do, is the use of numerical digits when typing Arabic words in roman script. I guess it was the mu7ahajaba that triggered it. Why use numericals? To represent the letter that the English Alephbet doesn’t have, of course, and thus not risking a compromise with the meaning of words. Also, it is sometimes used simply to confuse and belittle people who don’t understand. Sometimes. Sometimes, uppercase is used intead of numbers but numbers are more common. And words are important.

2 – This is the glottal stop, like the cockney ‘butter’ (: bu2er) which is usually the Hamza ء in the Arabic script. In colloquial, it also represents the glottal stop that Egyptians turn the ق into. Guilty. e.g. Enti fen ba2aaaa? – Where ARE you?

3 – This represents the Ayn ع , the sound of which can’t really be explained, only picked up and is actually not as difficult or vomit inducing as most people make it out to be when first trying to pronounce it. When followed by an apostrophe (3′) it represents the Ghayn غ . e.g. as Nancy Ajram beautifully sings ‘lawn 3ayounak’ – The colour of your eyes.

5 – This is sometimes, but extremely rarely, used in place of 7 [see below]

6 – This is used for the explosive Ta ط and when followed by an apostrophe (6′) it represents the explosive Dha ظ . e.g. 6ayyeb – Good.

7 – This is the deep Ha ح which comes from the same part of the throat that the haaaa comes from after a sip of hot tea. When followed by an apostrophe (7′) it represents the Kha خ . e.g. Sa7! – Indeed! Correct! Right!

9 – This is the explosive Sa ص and when followed by an apostrophe (9′) it represents the Da ض

So, if anybody ever wants to have a giggle at Araboman script, just don’t use the numbers 1, 4, 8 or 0. Or it might look silly.

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Above: Film Noir with a touch of what the Dr ordered.

Writer’s Block (WB)

I was told that when I wanted to write, to come along here and blog away in my non-carbon footprint kind of way. I was also told that, as I could not stand the texture of eggs but knew my body was craving them, that I should have eggs, with tomatoes and spring onions, a little red chilli powder and salt in it. An omelette, as it were. This should be taken with any brown bread, preferably Hovis, with a glaze of margarine applied before toasting it. And a dollop of philadelphia or cottage cheese should be on the side of the plate. I was also told that when one has WB, the only way to unclog is to write, spew, churn out all the rubbish, uncaring of ones reputation, mental health or punctuation. I’d always imagined that WB only happened to those in front of typewriters. My concept of WB has evolved into something that Johnny Depp would have to act out one day, as a schizoid, in front of a laptop, with a black hat, I think…

Disclaimer: TGI Anonymous.