New Delhi, Aug. 25 (PTI): Today, calling someone “feisty” is taken as a compliment, but in Old English it meant a flatulent dog.
“Silhouette” took off after a French politician whose name signified anything cheap.
A new book that charts the secret life of the English language reveals it all, including how “to Bangalore” jobs.
With examples ranging from Shakespeare to text messaging, Buttering Parsnips Twocking Chavs: The Secret Life of the English Language lists idioms, cliches and catchphrases and “tells whether you’re a yuppie or a woopie, a sinbad or a dinky, a spod or even a wazzock”.
“To Bangalore” — the business jargon for outsourcing work to India — finds space alongside “decruit” (make redundant) and “blue-sky thinking” (to be imaginative).
“The text messages are given alongside business jargon and rap slang to produce a language that is both witty and bizarre,” says Martin H. Manser, the co-author of the book released last week.
The book explores why new words and phrases were born, how mistakes and jokes affect a word’s career and why some words die.
One word used just once by its inventor James Joyce — mangongwheeltracktrolleyglarejuggernaut — finds place in the nearly 300-page book along with hipomonsteresquipedalophobia (the fear of words) and hyperpolysyllabicsesquipedalianist (who uses long words).
Other interesting facts abound. Like the story of Irishman James Daly who accepted a bet to establish a new word in just one day and scribbled “quiz” on the wall of every tavern in Dublin to win the bet.
“Leotards” were named after acrobat Jules Leotard, “jeans” after Genoa, the Italian town where the denim fabric was made, and “maverick” refers to Texan rancher Samuel Maverick who refused to brand his cattle.
The word “muscle” comes from the Latin word for “little mouse” and refers to the idea of muscles looking like mice running around under the skin.
“Panic”, or uncontrollable fear, has its origin in the frenzied rites associated with the Greek god Pan.