Saturday, 27 July 2013

Mind your language

I love words, even some of the ridiculous joined-up ones, and language (not just the bad stuff). Sadly, despite my admiration for linguistics, I'm ridiculously bad at languages. I'm attempting to learn Swedish at the moment and it's a slow process. Very slow indeed. When I say 'at the moment' I mean on and off for the past two years, which is, co-incidentally, about the age range of my Swedish conversation. 'Titta på pojken! Pojken har en röd boll.'  Which roughly (very roughly) translates as; 'Look at the boy! The boy has a red ball.' You can see how I'd be the toast of the Swedish social scene with fascinating conversation points like this.
I thank my lucky stars I'm not trying to learn English as a second language though. Putting aside the nonsensical grammar rules, how on earth would you get to grips with all the slang? Not to mention the aforementioned ridiculous joined-up words. That said, it seems Germany fancies some of these English gems for their own, recently adding 'shitstorm' to their dictionary. Bravo Deutschland. Bravo.
We should follow their lead and grab some more foreign morsels for ourselves. I vote for the Dutch word for unbelievable: ongelooflijk (un-guh-lof-i-lick). Not official onomatopoeia, but it feels like it, and I like it.
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
There are some expressions that just don’t translate and should be shared in their mother tongue for full effect, complete with all the gestures. Italian curses are obviously a good example. Dio cane literally translates as 'god dog'. See? It loses all its gusto in English. Some translate brilliantly though, and when traditional potty-mouth is becoming a bit repetitive, it's nice to have a few exotic expressions in your arsenal to keep people on their toes. Try 'may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits' next time you're having an argument. It makes a nice change from 'no YOU feck off!'
Having met a Dutch man with a Cork accent (which was bizarre to say the least) and a few Italians with a fine Ayrshire brogue, courtesy of my friend and their teacher, I wonder what kind of Swedish accent I'll end up with. Popular consensus seems to have me talking like the Swedish chef from the Muppets, but at the moment I'm told I'm quite posh (there's a first for everything). ApparentIy I tend towards the equivalent of 'How delightful to make your acquaintance', 'I hail from Ireland' and 'I do hope this finds you well'.
'hurdy gurdy gurdy'
I'm sure I won’t stay posh for long, we all know it's not my natural state after all. I'm just waiting for my first major faux-pas, and something tells me I'm not going to have to wait very long. All I can hope for is an understanding 'victim'. My better half once asked some older German ladies in a pharmacy for a creamy breast. Luckily, just as they were about to start throwing things, they realised, thanks to some desperate miming on his part, that he had meant to ask for a toothbrush and they dissolved into puddles of laughter. Let's hope they got a work discount on Tena Lady.
Speaking of growing older, it has just struck me that I must be maturing. A whole post about languages and I haven't mentioned being a cunning linguist once.
Until now. Damn it! So close.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Let's get ready to rumble: Facebook V Twitter

I've wittered on about networking socially (children) before but a year is a long time on the Internet and much has changed. Facebook is going downhill rapidly. For me it took a downturn when my mother signed up (sorry mother, I love you dearly, but the Internet is no place for you) but it's been plummeting further and further of late.
The front runners in the bloodthirsty battle of my grievances are ads (do I want to learn the latest celebrity secret to a flatter stomach? Of course! Let me just click on this link and give you my credit card details!) and 'inspirational' quotes with pictures of sunsets put together (badly) in PowerPoint. The latter, in particular, must STOP. I'm all for counting your blessings and looking on the bright side - as I've said before, more than once; in this world, if you know where your next meal is coming from and you're not having the arse shot off you, you're doing pretty well - but twee pictures and saccharine sick-making sentiment in flowery fonts do not inspire me. They make me want to punch people, especially the people that post them.
As for candy crush feckin' saga…Shove your invites. Shove them right up your arse. They're almost as bad as farmville. And to the 'like of you hate cancer'/'scroll on if you don't have a heart' brigade I say; If you care that much, don't share and like this crap – get out and do something useful. Raise some money. Give some blood. Not only are these posts a scam, they are patronising, infuriating and undermine people trying to actually make a difference. We all hate cancer – you take that as a given you fools.
This drivel must STOP
'Well why don’t you bin the bloody thing then?' I hear you ask. I would, but it does still have its uses, like staying in touch with people that I don’t have the time, or proximity, to catch up with individually. And I get to see what the offspring of friends and family in far away lands look like (yes I actually like the baby photos – WITHIN REASON. Don’t go too wild people…)
That said, there is also the sense of obligation to be 'friends' with people you barely know/like, especially those dull individuals who feel the need to update their status every time they have a cup of tea (we don't need or want to know). But you can hide their posts and carry on in blissful ignorance of the inane twaddle that's being spouted (yes – that includes my inane twaddle).
As my Facebook use has declined my Twitter use has seen a significant increase. I actually say things now (more of that inane twaddle) rather than simply chuckling and pawing at my phone screen. I don’t just follow famous people; I now follow strangers (some of them very strange indeed). Rest assured I do not accept sweets from them though.
Buoyed by partial or complete anonymity, people are far more honest on Twitter, and far funnier as a result. Very random people make me chuckle on a daily basis with their very random comments, indeed I often laugh out loud (note I do not LOL. The term LOL vexes me and also needs to STOP). It is especially amusing to read the running commentary on popular TV shows, especially the shameful ones (you don’t even have to watch said shows, you can get all the entertainment you need from the viewing tweeters).
No need to actually watch it. Thank god.
Twitter is a bit of a nut to crack. There's often a sense of 'you had to be there' and finding decent random strangers can be hard, but it's worth it for the resultant witty repartee and general silliness. To think I used to take the piss out of my friend and her penchant for Internet chat rooms at university, and here I am frolicking virtually in their mutated offspring (with actual mutants some of the time).
Sometimes 'you had to be there'...
There is, of course, also a serious side to Twitter. Several times in the past few years people have used it as a means of sharing information when traditional media fails, or is controlled by governments. But I wouldn’t know too much about the political side of things, I'm too busy retweeting fart jokes and making smart-arse remarks.

He he he

Topical Twitter