Tag Archives: British

Losable… and other -able adjectives

losable

Photo credit: funnyjunk.com

What an eventful week… Yesterday I taught my first Russian class at a language school – it was a new experience for me as so far I have only taught individual students. It is also a men-only group, so it was very funny when they arrived and got their little notebooks out and said they felt like they were back to school. Then they started comparing notebooks and telling each other where they got them from – some ‘stole’ theirs from work, while some had to go to a stationary shop. The guy who came with a brand-new notebook said he didn’t know whether to buy a large A4 one or a smaller (A5) size, but decided to go for the smaller one, which, they all agreed, was more portable, but also more ‘losable‘! What an adorable word!

I’ll be honest – I do have a strange fascination with these made-up-on-the-spot words ending in ‘-able’.

When I watched ‘Closer’ for the first time, there was a scene in which Jude Law said about Nathalie Portman ‘She’s completely lovable, and completely unleavable‘, and it just blew me away. I guess one of the reasons I love English so much is that it is so flexible and it lends itself to puns and wordplay and making things up and really encourages a playful attitude to a language.

I am really looking forward to the next lesson in the hope that my students learn some Russian and I maybe learn some an English word or two!

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A week (Monday)

a week Monday usage

Photo credit: timecenter.com

This morning I was listening to my favourite radio show by Shaun Keaveny – together with chocolate & tangerine granola it’s one of the few things that gets me out of bed. Today he chatted to Brian Cox – the great British physicist and, apparently, one of the sexiest men alive, who has just finished filming The Human Universe series. He mentioned that it’ll premiere ‘a week Tuesday’, and I immediately thought that I should write about this ‘a week …’ usage which puzzled me for quite some time.

In fact, it can also be ‘a week on…’, but ‘on’ is sometimes dropped. You use week in expressions such as ‘a week on Monday‘, ‘a week next Tuesday‘, and ‘tomorrow week‘ to mean exactly one week after the day that you mention. 

Examples:

The 800 metre final is on Monday week (Reverso).

– We’ll be back a week on Friday (Oxford Dictionary). 

Actually, after receiving a comment from a friend and a diligent reader of this blog, Zsofia, I double-checked Brian Cox’s twitter and it said that The Human Universe will start on 7 October, which is in one week, also on Tuesday. So when saying ‘a week Tuesday‘ he meant ‘next Tuesday’ because it’s Tuesday today! If he said ‘a week Friday’, then it would mean ‘a week after the coming Friday’.  

You quite often hear ‘Monday/Tuesday etc. week‘ (=the Monday/Tuesday etc after next Monday/Tuesday etc.), which effectively is two weeks, as in:

– I’ll be home Thursday week (if today is Tuesday, 30 September, the person is coming back on Thursday, 9 October).

You might also find this thread on Wordreference forum useful – I certainly did!

P.S. I hope I got it right!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Gobby

gobby meaning

Photo credit: scarlettlondon.com

Yesterday I went to a meet-up with fellow translators and what a nice bunch of people they are! I met quite a few new people and really enjoyed myself. Towards the end I was talking to a guy who has been working as a teacher at at one of local schools (for girls), and the general conclusion was that when they are young they behave themselves and don’t cause much trouble, but teenage girls often become gobby. Now, that was a genuinely new word for me, even though I knew exactly what it meant because having lived close to a local school I’ve seen quite a few of them.

According to Oxford Dictionary, ‘gobby‘ means ‘tending to talk too loudly and in a blunt or opinionated way’.

Here’re a few examples:

– At convent school, I was always untidy and gobby and got everything wrong (Oxford Dictionary).

– Adele Adkins is a gobby, funny and extravagantly talented 19-year-old whose massive voice is going to make her the biggest singing star of 2008. And, no, she’s not going to be the new Amy Winehouse (The Guardian)

– Those are the teenage girls I love to write about in all their stroppy, sweet, bitchy, gobby, shy, pain in the arse, multi-faceted glory. Because when you’re a teenage girl, being difficult is your default setting (The Guardian).

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In good (or not so good) nick

in a good nick meaning

Photo credit: calliopegifts.co.uk

Today I went for my regular volunteering shift at the local bookshop – to strengthen my willpower by resisting the temptation to buy more books, to get my weekly fix of chocolate biscuits, to spend time around some lovely people and… hopefully to hear some more cool phrases.

A customer came in asking whether we had any more books by Marina Lewycka apart from A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian that we had in the shop. He said he had seen another book, but it was in such a bad nick that he didn’t get it.

I hear this phrase – ‘in good/bad nick‘ – from other volunteers very often. ‘Nick‘ essentially means ‘condition’.

You can also say that a book that is in a bad nick is ‘tatty‘.

I must say that in the days when I was buying books from charity shops like there was no tomorrow, I did buy some tatty ones, but I ended up donating them back to charity shops as I never read them. Much as I love books – all kind of books – I find that they need to look appealing.

I still find that I have hoarded way too many books and I need to slowly work my way through them so that I could buy new books!

This is how my current ‘to-read list’ looks like (or at least its English section – there’re at least as many books in other languages waiting to be read and they make me feel bad):

bookshelf shelfie

And while we’re on the subject of books and shelves… I recently came across the word ‘shelfie‘, i.e. ‘selfie of your bookshelf’. Here are some shelfies from Guardian readers.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair-weather runners (and friends)

fair-weather runner meaning usage

Photo credit: fb.com/lifeinadayofarunner

I have to admit that every spring as I see more and more people running I decide to take up running myself. Now that I live close to the Downs, which is a relatively large and flat (which is uncommon in the hilly Bristol) green area, there are even more people out running and I am even more tempted. It’s not that I cannot make myself exercise – I do manage to do yoga at home fairly regularly, but with running it’s a different story.

Since I only run sporadically every run is a challenge, and also my back hurts if I run on tarmac, so I have to run on the grass, which – you’ve guessed – is wet about 70% of the time. So I end up running only on glorious sunny days, and they are few and far between. And then the autumn comes and I pretty much shelve all my running plans. That said, I do love the idea of running and determination that comes with it and I admire those who do it on a regular basis.

My only consolation is that yesterday I heard the word which describes me perfectly – ‘a fair-weather runner‘!

Here’re are a few examples:

– Recently, I seem to have been a bit of a fair-weather runner. Do you know that feeling? You look out of the window at the dark skies and the rain, and decide that you could just as well go running tomorrow, when it might be nicer. If, like me, you live in England, you’ll already have spotted the problem here. In the last year, the chances of tomorrow being nicer have been pretty low (mattgetsrunning.com).

– I am a Fair Weather Runner. I am going to let you all in on a little secret. I am not a hardcore runner. I would like to say I am, I really do try to be (runforfun-stephanie.blogspot.com).

P.S. There’s also an expression ‘a fair-weather friend‘, i.e. someone who only wants to be your friend when things are going well for you (MacMillan Dictionary).

Some examples of this phrase:

– Britain is an all-weather, not a fair-weather, friend to Afghanistan (The Guardian)

– But he was no fair weather friend. He was loyal and generous to his family and his friends (The Guardian).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What kind of person are you?

a ... kind of person phrase usage

Photo credit: netural.com

On Sunday I went to a staff summer party to catch up with colleagues at a language school where I… don’t teach yet, but I’m there to cover for the regular teacher should anything happen. At some point I overheard somebody saying ‘I’m not really a satchel kind of person‘, while pointing at his bag. This reminded me of the funny phrase that I’ve heard on many occasions – not necessarily with ‘satchel’ though.

A few years ago I was watching The Spooks, a British TV drama series about MI-5. One of the best phrases I learnt from this series was ‘I’m not really a cat person‘. I thought it was a great way of talking about things you like or don’t like.

So, what kind of person can you be?

– There’s nothing new in the notion that time can be a tyrant. But that’s generally held to mean that modern life moves too fast; in reality, if you’re a 200bpm kind of person, constant exhortations to slow down can be just as potentially tyrannical. Sometimes what’s more important is to know your tempo, and those of the people with whom you’re trying to sync (The Guardian).

– For most people, having this prominent book on their table will be a badge of brand loyalty. It says: ‘I’m a Python (as in Month Pythonkind of person‘. Quite right too. The Life of Brian is simply the best British comedy film ever made (The Guardian).

– The Mercury nomination still hasn’t had any major impact on me or my career. I’ve actually been quite surprised by how little it’s changed anything. But I have been worrying about what to wear to the ceremony. Apparently it’s quite posh, but I’m really not a dress kind of person, so I think I’ll stick to jeans and a smart top (The Guardian).

– He later suggested to Ferlisi that she join him but, she says, looking down a little embarrassed, she declined because “I’m more of a casual clothes kind of person, so that wasn’t really me.” (The Guardian).

– Maybe if you were a glass half-full kind of person you’d figure that you were unlucky – you caught them on a bad night (The Guardian).

– I have developed the habit of always looking down to the third or fourth response in a google search. Works for me but I have always been a road less travelled kind of person (The Economist).

P.S. I am definitely a cat person, by the way!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Bob’s your uncle

bobs_your_uncle meaning

Photo credit: zazzle.co.uk

A few weeks ago my other half and I went to a medieval city of Wells, known for its impressive cathedral. This time we decided to go inside and explore the cathedral (not something we often do, since the entry to such places in the UK is by no means cheap). We were just in time for a guided tour, and even though I used to hate the idea of walking anywhere as a group, I started to realise that you learn much more this way. So in we went with our knowledgeable guide. Towards the end of the tour he used the phrase ‘… and Bob’s your uncle’, which at first puzzled me as I’ve never heard it before, but it seemed to mean something like ‘and here you go’.

Indeed, according to World Wide Words, ‘It’s used to show how simple it is to do something: “You put the plug in here, press that switch, and Bob’s your uncle!’

The origin of this phrase is, as usual, quite obscure, but you can find a detailed explanation on World Wide Words’ website and on Wikipedia.

I particularly like this bit: “It is sometimes elaborately phrased Robert is your mother’s brother or similar for comic effect. With his customary whimsical humour, P.G. Wodehouse (one of my favourite writers, by the way) extended it to “Robert’s your father’s nearest male relative”.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

In any shape or form

in any shape or form meaning

Photo credit: starsketchers.blogspot.co.uk

As you probably gathered from my previous post, I went to Paris last week, that’s why there’s not been many updates with new English phrases (I’ve just tried a typical British understatement – there’s been none, actually). However, I did learn quite a bit of French vocab, though I’m still not sure whether I should be sharing it here, I’ll have to think about it.

Anyway, when I came back one of the first things on my to-do list was to phone up the Hay Festival people and book some tickets – students can only do this via the phone, apparently. So, armed with a list of events I was hoping to go to, my student card and my debit card (students go free, but you need to pay a deposit), I phoned their number and one of the first questions I was asked was “Have you ever been to the Hay Festival in any shape or form?” I haven’t come across this idiom for a while, so I noted it down and carried on answering the questions. Sadly, all the events with Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins had been sold out by then, but I’m still looking forward to this event!

I thought I’d include a few examples of how “in any shape or form” (meaning “in any manner or under any circumstances”) is used. Note some slight variations:

– 96 per cent of the electorate voted against Europeanization in any shape or form (Oxford Dictionaries)

– BBC News arts editor Will Gompertz suggested that the four all “make work that is in some way, shape or form, a collage (BBC – oops, BBC missed a comma between ‘way’ and ‘shape’).

– The opposition parties know that the only way to break Labour’s stranglehold on Wales is to come together, or work together in some shape or form (BBC).

– It’s worth recalling that UN security council resolution 1973, passed last month, does not authorise member states to support the rebels, to defend armed groups, or to oust Gaddafi. Nor does it authorise an Iraq-style ground invasion or military occupation, in any shape or form, size or scale. But in reality, much of this is now happening, willy-nilly. Make no mistake: the creep is on (The Guardian).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,