A word I just learned…

… reading The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1 – Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

nesh

Chapter 7 of this remarkable book contains this marvellous description of the Liverpool slang spoken by the future fab four:

“…something good or great was ‘gear’ and stupid was ‘soft,’ and out of fashion was ‘down the nick’ and when taunting or teasing someone you’d shout ‘Chickaferdy!’; and if someone was spineless they were ‘nesh’; and you said ‘Come ’ead!’ (‘come ahead’ for ‘come on’); and ‘Eh oop!’ had many uses, from ‘hello’ to ‘let’s go,’ and ‘lad’ was ‘la’; and an interesting person was a ‘skin’ – so ‘Eh la!’ and ‘Eh oop, la!’ and ‘ ’E’s a good skin’; and where (though swearing was muted on the street because people got upset if they overheard it) ‘stupid get’ (‘stupid git’) or ‘yer daft get’ were OK … and then you said good-bye to your mates with a wacker’s ‘Tarrah well!’”

(“Wacker” being a word for working-class Liverpool males.)

A word I just learned…

… reading an AFP story:

immurement

“Locals in the village of Brugairolles in the foothills of the Pyrenees were so appalled by the immurement, they rose up to rescue the elderly couple, tearing down a wall from the front of the house and ripping open windows and doors that had been nailed shut.”

From the Latin murus, or wall, which shows up in English words like mural.

 

 

A word I just learned…

… reading a review by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times Book Review:

ensorcelled

“She [Clare Boothe Luce] ensorcelled the married Lieut. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott Jr., in command of the Fifth Army in Italy.”

A wonderful word, with echoes of ensnarement, sorcery and snorkels. It comes from an Old French root that indeed relates to the English word “sorcerer.”

My wife, who never ceases to ensorcell me, points out that Daniel Bélanger has a song titled Ensorcelée.

A word I just learned…

… reading World Wide Words:

Logocidal

“Logocidal refers to the destruction or perversion of meaning, something deadly to reason and communication,” says Michael Quinion. “Newspeak in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was a logocidal creation since it was designed to limit what it was possible to think about or discuss.”

It’s another word that’s obscure almost to the point of nonexistence, but Guardian writer Marina Hyde appears to be fighting a single-handed battle to keep it alive. “She uses it for language that’s obfuscatory to the point of meaninglessness, the kind employed by politicians and public figures to avoid committing themselves…” says Quinion. A useful term, given the continuing epidemic of such banana oil.

A word I just learned…

… reading P.G. Wodehouse:

mazzard

“Personally, if anyone had told me that a tie like that suited me, I should have risen and struck them on the mazzard, regardless of their age and sex; but poor old Bingo simply got all flustered with gratification, and smirked in the most gruesome manner.”

Like a lot of the best words, “mazzard,” as a slang term for head, is obsolete. What a pity. Time to bring it back into circulation, I say.