One of the joys of getting older is that we can become grumpier – of all Snow White’s companions of restricted growth we identify most with Grumpy. Being old is partially a state of mind.   We are aware that we’ll never win Wimbledon although some of us still believe we can still race our grandchildren across the lawn.     We don’t need to look back all the time. Much pleasure can be obtained by simply saying ‘No’.  you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to do it you can just say No without trying to justify it. I do make an exception for dancing when I tell people that no one wants to see an old woman dancing – particularly if she is drunk as would probably be the case if I ventured onto the dance floor.  At a wedding the other day an extremely drunk young man kept asking me to dance. I suspect that all his peers had turned him down and he was working his way through the guests and I had to be quite firm to reject his persistence but the thought of us dancing and him falling and pulling me down with him presented me a horribly unedifying picture!
And one of the main things that makes me grumpy (or grumpier than usual) is cliché ridden journalism. Anyone over sixty who lives alone and can still drive a car is referred to as ‘fiercely independent’ – I have never said that about anyone, any more than I have called anyone a Toff – a word much beloved by the tabloids. Gossip columns used to be filled with euphemisms – probably not so much today but then one knew that Confirmed Bachelor = Homosexual. Vivacious = drunk. Glamorous = Tarty.  Party loving = Hooker.  Popular girl about town = Slapper. Don’t think they bother today but just come straight out with it.
But there is still a lot of lazy journalism about – not all redheads are feisty or fiery, nor indeed are all abs toned – in fact most of my friends have flabs rather than abs.
Luxury mansion – I have friends who live in big houses but I would never refer to them like that.
Some words are rarely spoken, and only seen in print. Spotted (as in seen enjoying a meal not actual spots as in Greater Spotted Woodpecker) Plucky. Steamy. Sporting – as in sporting an outfit, racy, stunning
“Spotted enjoying a steamy kiss plucky Chardonnay sports a racy, revealing outfit while her stunning companion flaunts his toned abs!”
Pop – as in the doctor asking you to ‘pop up onto the bed’ or ‘just pop your top of’ – My top has sometimes been in danger of popping off after a heavy meal but in real life I would take it off and then get up on to the bed!
In the case of the young emojis seem to have replaced language – the trouble is that jokes frequently misfire or fall flat in a text.  Apparently an upside down smiling face indicates irony – which in itself is quite ironic as (like most Americans) machines have no sense of irony. The best definition I ever heard of that is the story (probably apocryphal) attributed to Noel Coward when an American woman asked him to explain irony to her and he replied ‘If I said that I was pleased to meet you – that would be ironic’.
Other words that confuse me – mark you it doesn’t take much to confuse me – are trope and meme.  According to Dr Google there are hundreds of synonyms for Trope – including cliché, platitude, concept and stereotype – so I have no idea why we need Trope. As for Meme, much beloved by teenagers, I’m pretty sure that very few of them know the derivation of the word that is a unit of cultural information spread by imitation. The term meme (from the Greek mimema, meaning “imitated”). Language changes all the time and I quite like that – although it is sometimes quite difficult to keep up. If we were sent back into history we would probably have very little difficulty in understanding people from a hundred years ago but if we were fast forwarded 100 years we more than likely wouldn’t understand a word!
Words that we take for granted and understand today such as emoji, google, Instagram or trans, would have meant absolutely nothing to a previous generation and other words like gay, catfish and tablet no longer only mean happy, bottom feeding fish and something brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. (just for clarification they are now homosexual/lesbian, tricking someone on the internet and a hand held computer.)
Phrases best avoided in novels include:
Also, she rolled her eyes across the room and, his breath came in short pants.   There are numerous others and although you usually know what the author means it is distracting!


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  1. Your blogs are always so entertaining, Stella. Love your examples of what not to put in a novel. There must be loads more – worth a book of their own!


  2. Hahaha – enjoyed that 😄 I like books written in the first half of last century for the language they used then. I think it may be because the writers used a bigger variety of words, so the story is more descriptive.


    1. Thank you – not sure if the use of clichés is actually laziness or that e tend to use a smaller vocabulary today. English is such an incredibly rich language -w we should make the most of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Once again you’ve made me laugh as I find myself agreeing with every word. Keep them coming Stella. Xx


  4. How very boned up you are, Stella! thank you for telling us the modern meaning of catfish – how on earth did it come to have anything to do with the internet! And the meaning of meme has always escaped me hitherto – I had avoided it, imagining that it was an emphatic version of ME, in the self-centred vocabulary of so many people nowaday. You are as informative as funny!


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