Words, words, words... a glossary update

Monday, March 14, 2011

If you haven't yet bothered to click on the "Glossary" link in the menu bar up top, you should take a minute and head over there.  There are one or two laughs, and you might just learn something.  Since I started compiling my little Brit-to-Canuck English primer, I've found myself jotting down words and phrases to add every day. So I thought that rather than simply tucking them away on a page that most of you will probably visit once and once only, I'd highlight the additions in a post of their own, and add them to the menu page at the same time.  This way anyone who's a regular reader can get the new stuff when it's new, but anyone who's just discovered the joy of GSWPL can have the full whack (ooohhh "full whack"... must add that to the list) all at once.  It's these kind of simple but brilliant services that we here at Go Stay Work Play Live feel make us a cut above your average crap blog. So, here are a few new words that are now part of my vocabulary and my life:

Faffing about = wasting time, messing around endlessly with minor, often pointless tasks. It's a great phrase, perhaps used like this: "For God's sake would you please stop faffing about and get your coat on? I'm bleeding from four different orifices and I need you to drive me to the A&E!"

A&E, short for: Accident and Emergency = The Emergency Room.

Paracetamol = acetaminophen-based pain reliever.  Used generically, like we use Tylenol.  As in "I went to the A&E bleeding from four different orifices and all they gave me was a bloody paracetamol and a tetanus jab"

Jab = shot. Not as in "from a cannon", but as in "Have you had a flu jab?".  This is one of those words that jars every time I hear it.  It sounds bizarre and colloquial to me.  Then I took a mental step back and thought about the word I’d normally use and realized it's actually got kind of scary connotations.  I mean if you had no preconceived notions, would you rather have a shot or a jab?  Sign me up for a jab please; it sounds almost playful.

See?  That looks like a JAB, not a SHOT.

Tablet = pill.  As in “Have you got any headache tablets?  All this talk of jabs does my head in.”

“Does my head in” = Gives me a headache, is annoying.  As in “That stupid haircut of James May’s does my head in!”

Surgery = Doctor’s Office.  It also means surgery as in “slicing open open of one’s body for medical purposes”, but if you’re making an appointment to see a GP, the appointment will be at the doctor’s surgery, even though they won’t actually perform surgery there. I find this really misleading and kind of alarming.  It’s like calling barber shop a leechery.  Maybe a few hundred years ago doctors did surgery at their surgery, but now they do it in an operating theatre.

Operating Theatre = Operating Room.  This is a favourite of cryptic crossword setters.  They like to confuse with the phrase “theatre worker” meaning doctor or surgeon and not actor or stagehand.  I find this particularly annoying.  In fact, you could almost say it does my head in.

Sick = vomit (adjective and noun).  If you say “I was sick yesterday” it doesn’t mean “I felt unwell” it literally means “I vomited”.  It’s also a noun, as in “Watch your step walking past the pub on Sunday morning or you might tread in a puddle of sick.”

Pub = Are you seriously telling me you don’t know what a pub is?  Find yourself a different blog because you are seriously misguided.  Perhaps you need a satnav

Satnav, short for Satellite Navigation = GPS.  Almost everyone with a car seems to have a satnav.  The coolest come equipped with several different voices. I’m sure that’s the case in North America too, but in NA do you get the mellifluous Irish guy?  I could listen to him all night, even if he’s just saying, “After.. 400 yards.. go left… at the roundabout…”

Roundabout = Traffic Circle.  A means of keeping traffic flowing by having all cars enter a circular road and choose which exit they want, thus eliminating traffic lights and long waits at intersections (snort!).  However, for those few readers who have fond memories of the 8th Street Traffic Circle in Saskatoon, most roundabouts are not much like that.  For one thing, they go clockwise.  For another, they are sometimes so big that you’re not really aware that you’re on one because there are shopping centres or odd public artworks or other large things in the middle, like Dame Edna, or Wales.  Conversely, they can be so small they’re nothing more than a slightly raised hump in the middle of an intersection, with curved arrows painted on the pavement around it (These are largely ignored.  The humps that is, not the arrows.  People are pretty solidly clear on the clockwise thing…).  Roundabouts also often have many different exits shooting off at odd angles, because streets in London almost NEVER meet at a right angle, especially when they are close to the Congestion Charging Zone.

A traffic sign leading into the roundabout at Elephant & Castle (which is not even remotely as exotic as it sounds… unless you find getting lost in a maze of underground walkways and cheap market stalls selling “used” electronics and pirated DVDs exotic).

Congestion Charging Zone, or simply Congestion Zone = An area of Central London where each vehicle entering is charged a $£10 fee, with the intention that this will reduce congestion and pollution.  Charges apply Monday to Friday between 7:00am and 6:00pm, and cameras monitor vehicles entering the zone, which is marked on signs and on the roads themselves with a big white “C” inside a red circle.  Drivers have to pay the fee the same day or the next day, and can do so online, by phone, by text message or in some shops.  If you fail to pay and are detected by one of the cameras, a hefty fine is levied (between £60 and £180 depending on how prompt you are with paying).  Some vehicles are exempt from the Congestion Charge, including buses and taxis, ambulances, police cars, fire trucks (phew) and, recently, alternative fuel vehicles.  Foreign-registered cars are not exempt, but lack of infrastructure to track down offending vehicles not registered in the UK means that miscreant visitors generally get a pass.  Interestingly, it seems that foreign diplomats and embassy personnel are particularly flagrant abusers, with the Americans leading the pack in this regard.  They claim that the Congestion Charge is a tax, which they are protected from paying under the Vienna Convention.  Wikipedia reports that the American embassy in London has racked up more than £3.4 million in unpaid congestion charges, and foreign embassies in general owe a whopping £42 million.  That's a lot of fish and chips...

The Congestion Zone Map, handily provided for all those GSWPL readers who will be visiting me in London, and driving.  Yup, all, err… none of you…

and, finally, apropos of nothing…

Zimmer Frame = walker.  Like the kind used by people unsteady on their feet.  As in this particularly lame joke I made up: Q: How can you tell if a goldfish is really old?  A: He swims around his bowl with a tiny Zimmer frame. (*RIMSHOT* “Thank you very much, I’m here all week.  Try the shrimp cocktail…”)


Anonymous said...

Groan..that joke did my head in.

Roberto Hamiltoni said...

One of your best blogs ever, including GSRED.

I liked how you linked the end of each item to start the nest. Simple, but engaging.

BTW, thankyouverymuch is all one word.


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