Monday, 30 September 2013

Words and Phrases - a Continuing Series

I wonder if languages other than English are as susceptible to sudden passions for new usages as English is. I know French has its little fads and ever-changing new slang; I remember years ago a French tutor at ANU coming back after visiting her homeland for the first time in ages and telling us disgustedly how her young relatives would finish a discussion about arranging a social event or meeting with the word, 'D'ac', which was short for 'D'accord' - 'Okay', (or 'Okay?', in some circumstances, I suppose).

Anyway, this tendency in English seems to be ever-increasing. The only good thing about it is that, almost as quickly as the new fads appear, they vanish. But, while they're here, they are so exremely annoying. Just at the moment the ones that are really setting my teeth on edge are:

1. 'Back in the day'
2. 'What's not to like'
3. 'Smarts'

Three is the one that's completely maddening me, to be honest, as it seems to be filling what wasn't a gap. 'She has the smarts to manage the job', I presume means 'She's capable enough to manage the job', so why create this new way of saying it that vaguely suggests she's got a skin complaint?

PS In the department of why didn't I think of it, @ClintonDucas has suggested that other horror, 'no-brainer', which conjures such vivid and unpleasant images and is somehow so coarse, dismissive and impatient that I have to admit it's the worst of the current crop.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Melbourne Faces

In case I gave the impression the other day that all Melbourne's buildings are faceless, I thought I'd better upload some evidence to show that that is not the case. It must be said, however, that the faces you do see on Melbourne's buildings tend somewhat towards the uniform, (bar the kangaroo, of course). At some stage in the nineteenth century, it appears that a rather plain, fat-faced woman cornered the market in decorative-faces-for-the-outside-of-your-house modelling, together with her friend, a depressed - or possibly angry - man with a fairly impressive beard, (provided you are impressed by beards, which, I have to admit, I'm not):

Someone appears to have had a pet lion that they lent out for stucco work too:

Supposedly we're the only country that eats its coat of arms (or at least the animals on it - for others, it might prove more difficult; sourcing unicorn is getting harder and harder, my dear)

This fellow graces the Trades Hall in Melbourne. He has wonderfully scary eyes, I think. Sadly, it was after dark when I spotted him, so there wasn't enough light to be able to tell if they were glass or painted, (and, speaking of glass eyes, my husband still has nightmares about his grandfather's friend who, having survived WWII, returned with a glass eye and a large cavity in his head - to entertain small boys, he'd slip out the eye and put it into the cavity and then bend forward and drop the eye from the cavity into said small boy's hand; yes, we are a damaged generation):

I cannot believe they are going to desecrate the Windsor and no-one can stop it. Is there really no way to prevent it: