Okay so it isn’t really a sneeze. It’s a genuine word with origins from the late 18th century. What it is is a noun meaning unvulcanised natural rubber (according the dictionary on my Apple Mac).
But it got me thinking about words and phrases we hear and to which I am confused as to their meaning.
This is a word you hear all the time as part of the modern Australian vernacular. But what does it really mean? From what I understand, it means to translate something literally, but without realising it we often use it in an almost slang-like manner.
“Thom Yorke was literally three feet from me at the concert.”
We use it as an intensifier, to make a sentence more important. I liken it to Popeye and spinach – only necessary for bragging rights. Couldn’t we simply say, “I was a metre from Thom Yorke at the Radiohead concert”? Seems equally impressive?
Master chef or MasterChef
They may sound the same, however, one is a leader with culinary skills and the other is the winner of a twelve week (or so) television game show – a person who believes their days of cooking for their family and friends provides the same qualification as those with years of formal culinary training.
The distinction lies in your interest in a particular form of popular culture. However, this can also be confusing as often the two tend to be mixed up by the very people who should know better.
No longer a place where one stops to enjoy a sip of chardonnay after a long day in the office, Winehouse now refers to a tragic alcoholic and drug addict who died alone at the age of 27 even after having fame and glory thrust upon her. The irony isn’t really lost on anyone is it?
In terms of
This is a weird one. If you are using it to describe exact amounts of something then please go ahead – “I measure the success of my blog in terms of weekly hits”. Why do people feel they need to use this expression in everyday language?
“I have to decide our dinner plans in terms of your birthday.”
“In terms of blog posts, this one is the most interesting.”
I often think people use ‘in terms of’ when they are trying to make their time on centre stage last longer, to give themselves more thinking time or to make themselves seem more important. It’s superfluous (a bit like me saying it’s superfluous really).
What’s concerning here is ‘youse’ gets a listing on Wiktionary. From my research there is a push for greater acceptance of the word youse given it is used in spoken language around the English-speaking world.
I recall a conversation with a beautiful young lady who often used the term ‘youse’ when referring to a group of us. When it was explained she should simply say ‘you’, she responded by saying, “But I was saying goodbye to all of youse. It doesn’t seem right not to include youse all.”
Not a bad argument really. We all want to be included.