My family shares my love of ridiculous words. Recently I was sent an e-mail in French. The reply was dead easy since I simply said ‘Oui’ and effectively repeated what they’d asked me. They had signed it cordialement, so I added ‘cordialement, Ali,’ with a flourish, feeling very pleased with my new expression. I mentioned this to Sophie.
“Cordial,” she pointed out, “means sort of friendly.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“So cordialment means friendlyment. Which means you have just signed off a business e-mail ‘friendlyment, Ali.’”
Yes, I absolutely had.
She then told me that she been having a text conversation with her brother and said that she had called him either a poop or a bum but she couldn’t remember which. I said that I didn’t think it really mattered which she had used when it came to poop or bum. Apparently wrong, She felt that it did matter because otherwise a bumper would become a pooper, a bumble bee a poople bee and conversely a poop scoop would become a bum scoop, or for the sake of alliteration, a bum scum. Not the same thing at all. Logical child.
This lateral logic extends to team names. For a school quiz night we decided that we needed a name that made us seem intelligent. It’ll psyche out opposition, we reasoned, so we’d doubtless win the coveted prize of a small bar of Yardley’s Lavender soap. High Q, Designer Genes and Si Napse seemed to hit the spot; Teach Us, Pet less so. In the end we ended up as New Rones which made us sound more like a 60s band and, in view of the lack of brilliance of our answers, was probably more appropriate. Bursting into a chorus of ‘Do-wa, do-wa, oooh ah, do-wa” might have won us more points and even netted us the soap.
In Greece the holiday company suggested that our quiz team names should be an acronym of YEN so we became Young Enthusiastic Non-Speakee Greekees. They probably felt that with the state of the economy nothing should be based on the Euro. Unluckily there is no currency called a Cwgy (can we go yet) or even a Mbowl (more beer or we leave).
It amuses me to think of where certain words must have come from, for example gormless. Presumably there has been an ancient Anglo-Saxon or even Viking word ‘gorm’, the lack of which was clearly an intellectual problem. History does not relate whether gorm had to be drunk, perhaps in mead, was a gift you were born with or something solid, like a helmet with horns on.
“We’re invading at noon. You’ve gone and forgotten your gorm, Sven.”
“Ignore him, Lars. He always forgets. Gormless.”
Another anomaly is nonplussed. It should theoretically be possible to be plussed. Historically they probably were, for example the Knights Templars as they rode off.
“For God and England; armed and plussed we ride.”
It’s easy to believe it came out of the mouths of gentler folk, like Shakespeare.
“Gadzooks, thine is a great play, Will. Rightly those townsfolk granted thee the credit that should be thine.”
“Verily they did. Plussed I was.”
Doubtless Plussed would have been the name of his next play, had he lived long enough to write it; a charming tale of cross-dressers, faeries, vengeance and people falling in love with animals.
I discovered from the urban dictionary that plussed now exists, although presumably it being in the urban dictionary means that no one over the age of 20 should make any attempt whatsoever to use it.
It’s Mother’s Day as I write this, so tea is being brought to me as I type, yet nothing will beat being woken with fruit kebabs, flowers, cards, breakfast and presents. Touched? I was plussed.