A Incorrectly Political Glossary of Abbreviations and Terms
FOREVER UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Learn English or Starve uses the following words and abbreviations in posts.
We’re not using any esoteric abbreviations anywhere anyway. And neither should you. You shouldn’t have to be told this, actually.
These shouldn’t have to be listed here like this, if you had learnt your stuff properly at the outset like you’re expected to.
Updated 07 July 2012 (previously 10 May 2012)
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academic wankery (n)
Unnecessarily long, technical, abstract or impenetrable language that academics (or, more precisely, academicians) use to bamboozle and confuse unsuspecting readers or listeners. The language is designed to flaunt intelligence or learning but all it indicates is the author is a douchebag. The pejorative colloquialism in Chinese is 拋書包 (TChi) / 抛书包 (SChi), pāo shū bāo, lit., to cast or throw a schoolbag. Otherwise called ostentazione di conoscenza (Italian, ‘ostentatious display of knowledge’). See also ACADEMICSPEAK.
This sentence is academic wankery:—
“A knowledge of contextual information broadens one’s analytical and probing skills that adds dimension to the concept of existential construct developed after World War One.”
It ultimately means, “That’s because it really doesn’t mean anything and I could probably sum up my point in one shorter sentence because it is so shallow and brief, but I would rather confuse you with my extensive knowledge of f@ck all!”
In other languages, academic wankery is:—
- 中文/Chinese: 學術自慰 / 学术自慰 (xué shù zì wèi) or 學術手技 / 学术手技 (xué shù shǒu jì)
- 中文/Chinese (accurate idiom): 拋書包 (TChi) / 抛书包 (SChi) (pāo shū bāo)
- Nederlands / Dutch: academische masturbatie
- Esperanto: academia masturbo
- Pilipino / Filipino: akademikong masturbesyon
- Français / French: la masturbation académique, branlette académique
- Deutsch / German: akademischen wichsen, akademische Selbstbefriedigung
- Έλληνικά / Greek: ακαδημαϊκό αυνανισμός (akadimaïkó avnanismós)
- Gaeilge / Irish: masturbation acadúil
- Italiano / Italian: masturbazione accademico
- 日本語 / Japanese: 学術オナニー (gakujutsu onanī)
- 한국어 / Korean: 학술 자위 (hagsul jawi)
- Latina / Latin: academica oportet masturbationem
- Bahasa Malaysia: pelancapan akademik
- Português / Portuguese: masturbação acadêmica
- Pусский / Russian: академический мастурбации (akademicheskiĭ masturbatsii)
- Español / Spanish: la masturbación académica
- Swahili: kitaaluma Punyeto
- ภาษาไทย / Thai: หมกมุ่นทางวิชาการ (hmkmùn thāng wichākār)
- Türk / Turkish: akademik mastürbasyon
- Việt / Vietnamese: học tập thủ dâm
- Cymraeg / Welsh: mastyrbio academaidd
- ייִדיש / Yiddish: אַקאַדעמיק מאַסטערביישאַן (aqadmyq mastrbyyşan)
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The language that academics and academicians use to obfuscate the reader or listener into thinking that they are more knowledgeable than they actually are. SYN: ACADEMIC WANKERY (qv).
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An arsehole (BrE); asshole (AmE). A doublespeak used in polite discourse. Used when a euphemism is not strong enough to express one’s explosive internal feelings towards the other person but arsehole/asshole considered too harsh or offensive (or too accurate).
May be substituted with the nouns academic (or more accurately in this context, academician), auditor, banker, economist, human-resources specialist, industrialist, lawyer, linguist (as in linguistics), philosopher, political thinker or sociologist as appropriate.
In Chinese, arsehole/asshole is often translated as 混蛋 (Mandarin hún dàn, Cantonese wunn daan, lit., mixed egg, i.e. bastard). In reality, an Adam Henry in Chinese should be si fut gwai 屎忽鬼 (lit., anus ghost: see TROLL).
In Japanese, Adam Henry is simply asahoru (asshole).
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Adjective. In English, words that describe (or ‘modify’) nouns partly by comparative (-er) and superlative (-est) forms, such as good, bad, perfect.
English adjectives operate in specific sequence (adjective orders):—
7. proper adjective (usually nationality or other place of origin)
8. purpose or qualifier
A nice (opinion/quality) little (size) old (age) white (colour) brick (material) house.
However, for example, most native speakers will say a big, ugly desk (size, opinion) instead of “an ugly, big desk” (opinion, size).
Many Asian speakers of English tend to overuse adjectives in the hope of sounding like native speakers by mimicking Victorian-era writers — a serious but also highly hilarious mistake. Most native English speakers with a modicum of learning or sensibility realise the French are past masters of the adjective so they try not to compete. If you overuse adjectives, you are seen as an irrelephant (qv). See also NATIVE FLUENCY.
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[1666 by Rev. John Eliot, Puritan missionary to American Indians; extant since ca. 1745–55; formed on the model of adverb]
Archaic term for adjective.
Imagine how much easier it is for everyone to infer context, category and meaning upon seeing this wonderfully clear term adnoun. Instead of choosing an obvious word to use, academic wankery (qv) has shafted us instead with adjective.
Meanwhile, the lingo lolicons (qv) have arrogated and recycled adnoun for other uses with a different meaning. Today, adnoun specifically refers to an adjective serving as a noun — a case of why couldn’t it be called a noun in its own right. Often these usages will identify the noun form of the word:—
Guide dogs for the blind. (Blind is adnoun for the noun phrase blind people.)
Tax cuts for the rich. (Rich is adnoun for the noun phrase rich people.)
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Adverb. In English, words that mostly end in -ly (e.g. very, well, quickly) that function as describers (‘modifiers’) of:—
- verbs (e.g. quickly went)
- other adverbs
- adverbial phrases
Adverbs typically express some relation of place, time, manner, attendant circumstance, degree, cause, inference, result, condition, exception, concession, purpose or means.
Most Asian users of English tend to overuse adverbs in the hope of making their speech or writing sound more like native English. The commonest defect seen is when the adverb refers to a consequent (anaphor) verb (e.g. The official firmly advised against taking that action). Overuse of adverbs makes you an irrelephant (qv). See also: NATIVE FLUENCY.
The modern trend (since the mid-1800s) is to shun adverbs in speech and in writing, especially if they are not strictly necessary. Authentic native English speakers tend to have two ways ways around using adverbs:
(a) chiefly by using a wider variety of verbs on their own, or
(b) by using other words to express the meaning of adverb so that the result doesn’t sound like religious verse.
The Asian habit is to rely on various adverbs to modify a narrower set of verbs:—
The official firmly advised against taking the action. (Asian habit)
The official was firm in advising against the action. (English habit)
The language is deliberately designed to display
intelligence and learning. (Asian habit: illogical, ungrammatical)
The language is designed to deliberately display
intelligence and learning. (Asian habit: more logical, grammatical)
The language is designed to flaunt intelligence and learning. (English habit)
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American English (i.e. English of the United States of America).
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Arkell v. Pressdram (1971)
Defamation case in English law that provides the legal version of the imperative “F@ck off.”
“Our response to that statement is as given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram.”
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The longwinded, mock-Gothic Victorian Edwardian Muncipal Disneyesque Administrationalistic English that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ceylon Sri Lanka and Indian Ocean Territories teach as High English and a paragon of good taste. It isn’t. These tinsel-town curry-benders think they are oh-so-terribly-British with this pathetic brand of English. That way of speaking/writing was done for special effect and the more insane idiots of the Indian subcontinent thought it was for real. These people had a 50-50 chance of getting it right … and they blew it.
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British English (i.e. the language of the British Isles, specifically England, Wales and Scotland). Irish English stopped being counted as part of British English since 1922.
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Canadian English. The language of those people who spell almost like the British and speak almost like the Americans. The French-Canadians make up for this defect with their funny and adorable accents.
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[Abbreviation of electronic-bonics: not to be confused with Ebonics]
E-bonics (hyphenated and the ‘e’ is capitalised at the head of sentences) is the practice of reducing normal comprehensible sentences into a few choice letters and symbols. Punctuation is optional and often discouraged. Example:—
“lulz u see teh patriots epic fail? gg belicheat ftl”
“What did you just to me? I don’t know e-bonics.”
E-bonics (hyphenated) is unrelated to Ebonics (no hyphen), which is basically African-American Vernacular English. E-bonics as a form of
gibberish communication began with instant messaging systems such as AIM, AOL and MSN, and was only used between [almost consenting] people when they are on the Internet or when texting. It has spread to other forms of dialogue, making it far more annoying. Frankly, it is a right abortion and a poor excuse for a failure to grasp the basics of English.
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The mock-dignified way some patronising people use language so as to give themselves an air of élitism or superiority — chiefly as a way of both ingratiating themselves with their peers and denigrating others supposedly below them. Not to be confused with l33t (leet or leetspeak).
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Acronym from the phrase “F@cked Up Beyond All Recognition” that dates from the Second World War (1939–45) (or 1941–45 for the Americans). No longer offensive and now in mainstream vocabulary.
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[German, past tense of vi, vt ficken, lit., f@cked]
Hyper-philosophical version of the more mundane English word f@cked to express higher qualities of fubar (qv) or snafu (qv) in the same epic league as the Anglo-Saxon saga Beowulf or the German Gothic Sturm und Drang literary movement.
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grammar nazi (n)
These are the homos who thwart arguments and serious discussion not with logic or intelligence but, rather, by pointing out spelling or syntax mistakes. When this happens, the speaker or writer is apparently rendered useless and pointless for having made a simple (oftentimes trivial) grammatical mistake, regardless of quality of conceptual content.
The grammar nazi (who should more correctly be termed grammarfags, qv) doesn’t realise that his or her role as editor/redactor of an informal conversation or writing is useless and moronic. Even the very best writers and speakers make the occasional mistake. A little mistake isn’t going to bring the walls down.
Grammar nazis do not have friends IRL (qv), so they habitually stake out and stalk their prey on Internet forums, chatboards and Facebook. Since, however, they have a distinct lack of friends, it follows that they suffer from a high degree of sexual frustration, which manifests in their liking for CP (child pornography) and anime bukkake.
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The internationally registered Grammar Control Committee of this website.
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A person who consistently uses correct (or even hypercorrect) grammar in all aspects of their offline and online life, particularly in areas where the main focus of communication is on speed and messages that are ‘short and sweet.’ These morons often present themselves as élites and often criticise and attack others who don’t use the same amount of correct spelling and punctuation as they do. Grammarfags often tend to dismiss comments by others as incomprehensible if the comment doesn’t contain full correct spelling and punctuation. SYN: grammar nazi (qv).
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An individual who is overly concerned with spoken and/or written grammar often to the point of obsession. The antics of grammarfreaks are not limited to the English language: they extend to other languages as well as other branches of learning such as mathematics. Grammarfreaks mostly happen to be anal-retentive English teachers.
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“Get the f@ck out.”
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A fat or otherwise aesthetically strange person who associates with a common group of friends or acquaintances — and makes conversation awkward by telling stories or making jokes that are not at all humorous or even related to the present situation.
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In real life. Something most people don’t have and can’t recognise.
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Learn English or Starve. This website you are reading, dimwit.
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[Pronounced lexi-loli-bender] Lexilolicon Defiance Bendover Standing Committee, a consultative thinktank for this website.
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lingo lolicon (n)
A takeoff on the well-respected anime and manga term lolicon. Lingo lolicons are in fact unconnected with Japan. Indeed, these brain-damaged people have a psychotic penchant for recycling or thieving words and phrases from other areas of human pursuit or branches of learning for use in their own fields. Lingo lolicons reinterpret those words or phrases (often misinterpreting them badly) or shoehorn strange new meanings into them so as make them fit in with their perverse (and sometimes perverted) Weltanschauung so as to make themselves appear smarter than they actually are (see academic wankery). The jargon so arisen from this process is quickly institutionalised by these people to support and reinforce their two-by-four-bit subculture. The commonest lingo lolicons are advertising agency executives, economists, linguists (as in linguistics), marketers, philosophers, political philosophers and sociologists.
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A variant or corruption of LOL (‘laugh out loud’). Originally an exclamation but now often used as a noun meaning interesting or funny content, especially when Internet-related. Example: Lulz is the one good reason to do anything, from trolling to rape. After every action taken, you make make the dubious, epilogic disclaimer, I did it for the lulz. SYN: fun.
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lulz killer (n)
A common term in Internet and real-life conversations to mean:—
- Someone whose sole ambition in life is to stop others from getting lulz (qv): often an Internet user in a postion of power who tries to stop lulz-worthy acts of anarchy.
- One who kills a mass of lulz over an extended time period.
- One who stops lulz from occurring by not showing up where lulz should occur.
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The Ministry of Troll Control, which oversees policy and enforcement matters in anti-trolling for this website.
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The Ministry of Waxing Lyrical for Self-Ingratiation is the self-explanatory agency for this website.
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See also ADJ and ADV. Related: elitespeak, irrelephant, grammarfreak, peevologist.
A psychotic state of mind induced by years of formalised education of the type that is geared towards passing examinations whose passing criteria are less to do with real-life application and more to do with dragging out the learning process in order to make money from the learner (or the learner’s parents).
An identifying characteristic of this psychotic state of mind is an insanely delusional belief that native fluency (they meant ‘the ability to speak like a native’) can come about merely through study, specifically studying from books, tape recordings, CDs, listening to radio shows, watching TV programmes, etc.
By definition (even in the perverse field of linguistics), a ‘native speaker’ of (say) English has to grow up using the language in an authentic English-speaking country in order to be one. In other words, native English speaking does not (and cannot) come from mere tuition.
People who are sold on this ‘native fluency’ spiel nearly always refuse to recognise or accept this simple, commonsensical truth of the matter. It makes their psychotic state of mind even funnier and much more entertaining for those who are actually native speakers.
Even more hilarious is the case of adults who say they want to learn to speak English ‘natively’ — they meant ‘to speak to a standard like a native.’ These fine adults would get a killer disappointment if they only realised East End London Cockneys, Yorkshiremen, Kentucky hillbillies, drawl-and-twang Texans and a whole host of English yakkers around the world are also native English speakers. These adults need to go back to elementary school and relearn the meaning of the word native from the standpoint of geography, history, philosophy, language, linguistics, politics and common sense.
One of the commonest defects of people trying hard to sound like a native English speaker is the tendency to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Asians tend to fall into this trap much more than Europeans do, mainly because Europeans in their funny but adorable accents know it is bad form and social stupidness to overuse adjectives and adverbs in their own European mother tongues already, so they know not to try the same in another European language like English.
Most English speakers with a modicum of learning or good sense and sensibility long realised the French (and by extension the Belgians) are past masters of the adjective and the adverb, so they try not to compete. Besides, too many adjectives and adverbs in English make you sound insecure — as if you’re shamefully, abashedly lying in an equivocally obvious way. If you have to sound like lying, at least sound unequivocal at it.
The worst offenders are those Asians whose countries or territories have a past history of being colonised or double-penetratedly abused by European powers. On the strength of that history, they therefore start overusing adjectives and adverbs in the hope of making their speech or writing sound more like the native European language. The situation is much worse with English because the English language has the most number of adjectives and adverbs than any other European language.
The Chinese, Japanese and Koreans have a yen for American English because its crippled grammar (rebadged as ‘simpler’) has many points of similarity to their own grammars.
The Hong Kong Chinese and Singaporeans prefer British English — chiefly because of Hong Kong’s 156-year-long (1841–1997) and Singapore’s 139 years (1824–1963) history as British colonies. But Hongkies and Spores end up speaking and writing 70% American English (because of its ‘simpler’ grammar but using British spellings) and 30% a mishmash of Chinglish, Britspeak and anything else they pick up from their English-language TV channels.
Meanwhile, Hongkongers try to crank up the ‘nativeness’ factor by mimicking Victorian-era writings whose despicable verbosity, superciliousness, roundaboutness and talking-down-atcha qualities of language (had they know) are roundly hateful to the eyes and hurtful to the ears of 99% of English speakers anywhere in the world.
The peoples of the Indian subcontinent and the Indian Ocean territories go totally overboard with their Ayyo English (qv). In their incredible, self-induced delusion of some lost glory of the British Raj, these curry-mango chutney eaters teach that longwinded, mock-Gothic Victorian Edwardian Muncipal Disneyesque Administrationalistic English as High English and a paragon of good taste. They never realised that that pathetic brand of English had been invented for the movies; it makes them sound like a bunch of flippin’ clowns.
Lately in TWAT (The War Against Terror), the roundabout locution of that mock-Gothic/Victorian nonsense English littered with adjectives and adverbs so beloved of many an Asian learner actually makes anyone sound like a fundamentalist suicide bomber (whichever and whatever the religion) — because nobody understands what the hell you’re on about. Money is tight, the bailout is long drawn out, and the Americans, the Brits and their allies don’t have enough facilities for ‘extraordinary rendition’ to hold you, so they’ll just blow your brains out with a 50-cal rifle round and save on the paperwork.
If you overuse adjectives or adverbs or do any of those things that the ‘native fluency’ spiel seems to dictate into your thick head, you are seen as an irrelephant (qv).
Read our related posts:—
- Native fluency, or just naive fluency? | 18 Aug 2011
- Native fluency: a natively native response | 21 Oct 2011
- Native fluency: a racially inspired response | 22 Oct 2011
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New Zealand English.
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[Augmented by peeverazzi: anonymous coinage in Mr. Verb, Peevology and its semantic field, 17 July 2007; and peevenik: by The Naked Listener, 31 May 2011]
See also PEEVOLOGY.
Pedantic people, usually with substantial training in linguistics, mostly have much too much time on their hands (because they can’t get a life), so they substitute with the next best thing available to them: to project prescriptivist tendencies on others (while denying such tendencies in themselves) via academic wankery (qv) and singling out any detractors as incorrect or ignorant or just plain silly.
“The peevologist, a self-proclaimed expert on language, can be readily identified by certain key characteristics: a belief, stated or implicit, that the English language is in decline and being corrupted; much moaning about falling standards, often violated by identifiable groups, particularly the young; repeated brandishing of fetishes unsupported by linguistics, history, or practice (think of the split infinitive).”
(John McIntyre, Peevologist psychology,You Don’t Say, 2 Sept. 2009)
Peevologists are promoters of paradigm maintenance rather than paradigm shifts:
“The peevologists are looking to change something that will not change. They seek a power that is not theirs and they express frustration based on a sense of entitlement that is not only arrogant but irrational. They hope to change the rotation of the earth and live with constant frustration, throwing stones at every sunrise and sunset.”
(Wishydig in Mr. Verb, Peevology and its semantic field, 17 July 2007)
SYNS. peeve peepers / peeve petters / peeve phreaks / peeve puppies / peevechasers / peevehounds / peevehoarders / peeveniks / peevenuts / peeveophiles / peevepests / peevepickers / peevepots / peevepreeners / peeverazzi / peeverts [suggestive of other fetishes] / peeveseekers / peevespotters / peevewits / peevomaniacs / peevotaries
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[Coinage by The Boston Globe columnist Jan Freeman in 2007]
The study of peevish behaviour, specificially intentions of people who dwell on their language peeves and constantly talking about them (in Freeman’s original meaning), and now also to mean the collection and public airing of language peeves.
“An analysis of faults, often imaginary, in language usage, arbitrarily pronounced by self-anointed experts, the analysis typically revealing rank prejudice and cultural bias.”
(John McIntyre, Musée des Peevologies, You Don’t Say, 25 Aug. 2009)
In other words, peevology is language nitpicking with a smarter name.
“Language nitpicking, says [Jack] Lynch, is so familiar today that we forget it wasn’t always ubiquitous. Though early scholars worried about the status and adequacy of English, he says, for ordinary people in Shakespeare’s time, “proper English” was simply ‘what most people do.’ Only in the 18th century did nitpicking as we know it take root.”
(Jan Freeman, ‘Turning Up Volumes,’ The Boston Globe, 6 Dec. 2009)
Indeed, the whole field of linguistics is really one of peevology in which persons with their own set of pet peeves tries to outsmart, outmanoeuvre and outgun the others with their opposing pet peeves through use of soloing techniques (qv) and academic wankery (qv).
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(Pronounced ‘failed’) The Phayle Discovery and Diligence Committee, a regulatory and policymaking body for this website.
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A leetspeak slang term (derived from vt own) to mean:—
- an act of dominating or conquering an opponent
- such an act taken to gain ownership
- great, ingenious: applied to methods and objects
Pronounced pohn (IPA |pˈoʊn|), although there is no single accepted pronunciation.
The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival. It is used chiefly in Internet videogame culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g. You just got pwnd!). Past tense and past participle is pwnd: alt. pwnd, pwn’d, pwn3d, pwnt, poned, pawned, powned.
The term pwn was popular among Counter-Strike gamers before spreading through the more general Internet world. It dates back to the days of WarCraft, when a map designer misspelt ‘own’ as ‘pwn.’ What was originally supposed to be ‘Player has been owned” became “Player has been pwned.”
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Simplified Chinese (简体中文 jiǎn tǐ zhōng wén). The version of written Chinese used by 1,300 million Chinese people that deliberately reduces every single character to around 12 to 14 strokes so that every bloody character now looks identical to one another. Simplified Chinese has neither the regularised simplicity of Japanese Hiragana or Katagana nor the regularised differentiation of Traditional Chinese, so the overall amortised effect is that it takes the average learner a longer time to learn it. See also TCHI.
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“I didn’t invent this particular word but a particularly loquacious friend did: schmick. It describes something as being precisely perfect. A car can be schmick if it has all of the trimmings or a new movie or video game can be schmick if it is new and interesting. Originally it was applied to perfect plates of food going out in the restaurant where we worked — a particularly well-made plate would get the schmick approval. In the fifteen years since he first used schmick it seems to have crept into everyday slang usage here in Australia, and I just recently heard it used in an ad on TV. It is a schmick word in my books! Groovy.”
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Scottish English: The English as spoken in Scotland. Trust the Scots to start a sentence with excellent diction and finish like a punch-drunk peasant.
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Also known pretentiously as Colloquial Singaporean English.
Singlish is a brand of super-retarded, non-language form of English language spoken by those who reside in that rat-raced cosmo city-state located 1° north of the Equator at the 103rd meridian east. Clearly the equatorial sun has got to them. Pragmatically, the rest of us could simply regard Singlish as a form of chronic heatstroke.
Singaporeans of all ethnicity are very proud and psychotically defensive of this much curt, impatient, staccato-sounding English-based creole language. It’s like Ebonics (or even e-bonics, qv) for this bunch of Southeast Asians. Singlish is in the same boat with creoles such as Jamaican Patois, Belizean Kriol (of former British Honduras), Miskito Coast Creole (Nicaragua), Sranan Tongo (Suriname), Hawaiian Pidgin, the creoles of the Caribbean, and a couple of others elsewhere.
In reality, the average Singaporean is no way ignorant of StdE (qv). Indeed, many are more than capable of speaking or writing in StdE when the need arises, such as in formal communication or in business meetings — or being the unhappy subject of a court hearing.
As a variety or dialect of English, frankly it isn’t one. In a nutshell, it’s a tiny spoken subset of essentially BrE (qv) with its own distinctive, non-English grammar. Its vocabulary is warped by loanwords and discourse particles (‘fillers’ such as well, y’know, like) originating from English, Malay, Chinese (Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese), Tamil, Indonesian, Indian and Arabic, among others — plus the obligatory American and Aussie slang imported through TV and movies.
As a colloquial dialect, Singlish is similar to Manglish, the colloquial dialect in neighbouring Malaysia. Like all colloquial dialects, Singlish is intimidating to those who are unfamiliar with this form of dialogue. Those who aren’t intimidated simply regard it as a form of monologue.
In many respects, Singlish isn’t in the same sordid dungeon-class as Hong Kong English (‘Honglish’), which Singlish is often (but mistakenly) compared along with. Whereas Honglish is just illiterate English, Singlish at least can boast a true national identity and multilingual heritage. It’s a helluva lot more entertaining than Honglish to listen to, too.
Normal English-speaking countries have true dialects; places like Singapore and Hong Kong have sociolects, resulting from differential use of English based on differential schooling regimes built around class and racial profiling.
Both Singlish and Hong Kong’s English/Mandarin/Cantonese/regional dialect phenomenon face what linguists and educationists unnervingly termed diglossia — a split between a ‘high’ formal language and a ‘low’ informal language. Those experts fail to see they themselves have largely been responsible for causing or reinforcing diglossia by recommending that schoolchildren should be funnelled into fixed subject streams at an early age within a high-pressure, goose-stepping, exam-geared, force-fed schooling regime.
The experts compound the diglossia problem by reinforcing the high-low/correct-incorrect use of English by undertaking hands-on editorial work themselves on English-language textbooks (instead of by professional book editors). The net amortised effort of that irresponsibility is a steady piss-stream of badly edited, unmarketable books for use of by innocent schoolchildren taught by teachers reared on a diet of misguided teaching principles built around fixed subject streams, rote learning and lucrative yearly replacements of textbooks by publishers ‘winning’ their deals in invitation-only ‘public’ tenders organised by the education authorities.
In the end, students don’t know which way is up and resign themselves to living with two parallel ‘language universes’ to deal with life inside and outside of school, and the effect carries over into working life.
Not to be too blunt, the quintessential linguist in some of us are also bat-blind to the fact that by even recognising or analysing the ‘inner technology’ of Singlish (or any other English creole) as a patois (non- or substandard form) of English, that very fact helps to reinforce the continued existence of that creole. It’s just another way of celebrating mediocrity. We don’t see this happening in the francophone and hispanophone worlds — bad French is bad everywhere, bad Spanish is bad anywhere. Know your shit, or know you’re shit.
In keeping with the general habit of most Asians speaking in English, Singlish is syllable-timed, meaning that all syllables are pronounced with equal duration as if the English words were Asian words. In most traditional varieties of English, syllables are pronounced stress-timed. Therefore the Singlish speaker (or any Asian person who isn’t a native English speaker for that matter) appears retarded because of his staccato’d (or even staccatissimo’d) speech.
Staccato sounds like this: [click here]
Contrary to popular belief, native and non-native Singlish speakers are not retarded. It is just an articulated form of the artificially indigenised ‘indigenous culture’ of Singapore expressed through incoherent and retarded speech.
John: Is that guy retarded? What the hell is he talking about?
Bill: Well, he probably is retarded but he’s speaking Singlish, I think.
Basically, it is English used by a tiny Asian nation nobody cares in such a way that it sounds so Asian that you don’t understand it — even though the people there are much, much smarter than you or me. Since, however, these people are apparently smarter than the rest of us but have somehow ended up with this retarded abortion of a language, might it not be a case of the classic smart person’s mistake (to think everybody else isn’t as smart as oneself)?
Dun talk cock lah you. (‘Talk cock’ means to spew nonsense from one’s mouth or to utter ridiculous contentions.)
Give way. (‘Short’ form of ‘excuse me.’)
You damn bad lah think what. (You’re very bad to think like that.)
So big ah?
What lah — [insert here a bunch of made-up words that make you go 'WTF'] — mee siam.
The quality of Singlish exists as a continuum:—
This person’s Singlish is very good. (Standard English)
Dis guy Singlish damn good eh. (Mixture of Standard English and Singlish)
Dis guy Singrish si beh zai sia. (‘Singlish’ as commonly recognised)
The early booster is another recognisable characteristic of Singlish — the start of an utterance or sentence is said in a higher pitch:—
I ↑THINK↑ they are quite nice and interesting magazines.
In short, the grammar of Singlish boils down to nine points:—
- topic-prominent/driven (just like Chinese and Japanese): an utterance begins with the topic (or known reference point of the conversation), followed by a comment or new information: Tomorrow dun need to bring camera (you don’t need to bring the camera tomorrow)
- Chinese-style questions (i.e. A-not-A: or not): this book you want or not? (do you want this book?)
- optional noun plurality: five car pass through today
- optional definite/indefinite articles: I can play piano
- to be drops out in passives: she punished
- to be drops out in adjectives/adjectival phrases: I damn naughty
- to be drops outs more after nouns and pronouns it, we and they (but not I, he and she)
- optional past tense marking: he talk so long, never stop, I ask him also never
- avoiding the use of past tense for someone who is still alive: he speak English to her yesterday (he spoke/was speaking)
Mesmerise yourself with this long list of Singlish words: [click here]
- Lah is the most famous and universally occurring example. Lah is often added in the final/terminal position of sentences for no apparent reason:—
Ken you help me wit fix car lah?
Yah lah! / No lah!
You wan go die lah?!
Why kennot get A-prus in skool no lah?
- Leh is an informal way of saying please in the context of making a complaint or of general bitching:—
Gimme soy sauce leh.
Las night, I driving on P.I.E. and dis lorry driver near crash me leh!
Wai you say 6÷2 (1+2) = 1 mah? You so stupid leh.
How come I ask you call me, wai you not call me leh?
- Lor (from Cantonese) is used to emphasise a point:—
You not study, then you go die lor!
- Meh (not to be confused with the americanism ‘meh’) is used like a question mark:—
Really meh?! You got fired from job?
- Sia or siao is used for expressing disapproval. Siao is the cruder form and carries connotations of ‘crazy’:—
Dat lady look at me so crazy sia.
Waah! You get new Toyota sia!
Siao lah! You go and die you kenna sai!
- Izzit denotes is it (or sometimes does it) but slurred in speech. It is not to be confused with the East London Cockney innit (for isn’t it) Is it implies the speaker is simply confirming something he has already inferred:—
Dis disc, play well izzit?
They never study, izzit? (Implying ‘no wonder they failed’)
- Got is used in a question as a demand:—
I ask you to get me the stuff — got or not lah?
Why you got chewing gum?! Chewing gum ban in Singapore!
50% off? Where got!!?!
- Can is used in asking whether one is able to do something:—
Yah, I fix by tomorrow, can, can!
- -ed is the past tense ending that allows any word to be made into a verb in Singlish:—
The cat dieded when hit by car. (Died, was dead, was killed)
Wah! Las night he try kis da girl, I saw him get smackeded. (Pronounced ‘smakd-id’)
He orredy writed da check! Go bank cash now!
- Never is often used in the sense of didn’t (rather than the normal English meaning):—
How come today you never hand in homework? (Didn’t)
Singaporeans themselves claim Singlish is commonly regarded with low prestige in Singapore, but everybody there uses it in daily life. It isn’t used in formal communication. Most Singaporeans born after the 1950s can handle StdE, and nearly all born post-1970s are proficient enough in StdE. Indeed, most reasonably educated Singaporeans speak better English (Standard or otherwise) than the educated in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and many other Asian countries.
The Singapore government frowns upon Singlish and heavily discourages its use in any situation, as do many upper-class or highly educated Singaporeans. The official position of the government is that Singlish “hinders the proper understanding of Standard English,” which it views as a handicapping factor to its economic development.
The authorities also maintain that all Singaporeans should be able to speak StdE, so Singlish is heavily discouraged in schools and in the media. The problem is that teachers are themselves inevitably comfortable with Singlish. Using Singlish is also unavoidable when interacting with peers and family members (especially elders).
To emphasise the point about discouraging a Singlish-speaking habit, the authorities launched the annual Speak Good English Movement in 2000.
Meanwhile, the powers-that-be flies off its handle and came up with another standard — Singapore Standard English (SSE), a.k.a. the pretentiously named Educated Singapore English. Grammatically the SSE resembles Standard BrE almost to a ‘t’ — the Singaporean variations being only in accent and a few Singapore-specific words.
That’s why the SSE is brain-damagingly pointless. When you’re a Singaporean speaking English (Standard or otherwise) in Singapore, your English is bound to have a Singaporean accent and contain some local words.
I don’t know if the government there realises this or not, but when you’re trying hard to promote StdE to the population, it’s a wee counterproductive to bring out a simultaneous standard (the SSE). That just neutralises your effort for StdE. And if the SSE resembles Standard BrE, then you might as well just go for BrE altogether and forget Speak Good English Movement — try Speak Real English Movement instead.
Ultimately, if you can see this, this business with the SSE is less to do with promoting a high standard of English than it is really about promoting a Singaporean identity (and an ‘educated’ one at that). The prime minister there said as much (The Straits Times (Singapore), ‘Singlish? Don’t make it part of S’pore identity: PM’ [byline Jeremy Au Young], 22 Sept 2007). Yet none of the Singaporeans I’ve ever known or met (including my remaining relatives there) appears to be in any burning (or even unpassionate) need of national identity shoehorning.
The steps taken by the government would have come to something, if only it knew what it was on about in the first place.
Prime minister of Singapore, addressing the nation: I”ve had enough of this popcockery!* Singlish must go … now!
Singaporeans: Awww, buggermaquilt.**
See what I mean.
* He meant to say poppycock.
** Aw, buggermaquilt is a phrase used if something bad in life happens.
Recognition is one thing; being stupid enough to recognise any old tosh served to you on a platter is quite another:—
A UK thinktank “focused on power and politics” called Demos (charity no. 1042046; unrelated to the US thinktank of the same name) recommends the UK embrace ‘modern’ Englishes because, far from being corruptions of English, new versions of the language (like Chinglish and Singlish) have values…
“that the British need to learn to accommodate and relate to”
(The Guardian (London), “UK must embrace ‘modern’ English, report warns” [byline Liz Ford], 15 March 2007 | Link)
That’s just plain codswollop. Chinglish uses outlook to mean outward appearance. Are you ever going to use that? Are you going to adopt the Singlish dis prime minister si bei zai sia eh?
(Adapted from the original post “To lah or not lah, that is the question,” 07 July 2012.)
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[sino + bonics > phonics: coinage on 14 October 1999 by The Naked Listener]
The messy and convoluted way the Chinese compose their English sentences that they imagine to be correct but only understood inside their own culture (or even own circle of friends).
Sinobonics is characterised by (1) over-reliance on “which” (especially in place of “that”), (2) parenthetical clauses, (3) spliced sentences, (4) forward-acting adverbs and adverbial clauses, (5) total lack of elision, (6) missing predicates, (7) incorrect numbers agreement, (8) verbs too far apart from subject or object, (9) lengthy leading sentences, (10) sentences with 70-plus words, (11) paragraphs with 500-plus words, (12) dependence on double adverbs to modify a narrow stock of verbs instead of using alternative verbs (e.g. “ostentatiously and conspicuously display” = to flaunt), (13) use of outdated words (e.g. “seldom” = “hardly ever”), and (finally) (14) interminable, ever-come-lasting bloody listings in a single sentence.
Just like the sentence there. Had enough yet?
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Acronym from the phrase “Situation Normal: All F@cked Up” first recorded in 1941. No longer offensive and now in mainstream vocabulary.
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Read the LEOS featured article The Great Sociology Charbroiled Words List for details.
The ear-jarringly perverse diction that many (if not most) people who have been trained in the humanities are so terribly fond of. Sociologyspeak is not limited to just sociologists, I kid you not.
Sociologyspeak is characterised by:—
- latinate phraseology (i.e. English words that are overtly Latin in character)
- unbridled personification (i.e. personifying the hell out abstract stuff)
- the abstract made animate as opposed to practical or everyday
- outlandish metaphors (“a virgin field pregnant with possibilities”)
- odd locution (“do you or know of someone who wants…,’ holy place = church, “things with which we cannot put up”)
- multiple elaborate clauses (often in one sentence)
- sweeping pronouncements and/or generalisations
- sentences that run over-limit at 100 words or more (a tell-tale sign that one sentence is trying to do the work of five)
- paragraphs that run over-limit at 350 words or more
- mock antithesis (opposition of mere sounds)
- heavy rhythms and metrical scraps
- low-frequency, polysyllabic latinate terms in high register
- overuse of “this author” to mean “I” (as in, “In this research, this author…”)
- a tone that “talks down your throat” (as described by George Mikes in How to be an Alien, Penguin, 1946)
Therefore, sociologyspeak takes a dissing disposition in relation to the listener or reader. In other words, it is academicspeak (qv) that is a highly disciplined product of academic wankery (qv). Anytime you encounter someone who uses sociologyspeak, you can be that person is doing soloing techniques (qv).
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Standard English (universal or neutral flavour of the English language).
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“Shut the f@ck up.”
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Synonym; a word having the same (or nearly the same) meaning as another word in the same language, as joyful, elated, glad.
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Traditional Chinese (繁體中文 fán tǐ zhōng wén) — the form of Chinese writing that actually looks Chinese, notwithstanding 1,300 million Chinese who might just take an alternative opinion. See also SCHI.
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Too long; don’t read.
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troll (n, vi, vt)
A troll in Norse mythology is a negative synonym for a giant called the jötunn. In modern times, a troll is someone who makes inflammatory or off-topic statements (in speech or in writing) in order to provoke other people into a desired emotional or angry response so as to disrupt normal on-topic discussion.
A troll in fact is a lulz killer (qv). The usual places to find trolls are on online discussion forums, chatrooms or blogs, although trolls exist in large numbers in the offline world (see IRL).
In old-fashioned English, a troll would be called (more politely) a stupid or annoying person (SYN: pillock), or (more accurately) an arsehole (BrE), asshole (AmE), cakeboy, c*nt, dickface, f@ckface, jerkoff, slag (for females), twat or wanker. The equivalent academic terms are economist, linguist (as in linguistics), psychologist and sociologist, including women’s studies specialist.
The Cantonese colloquialisms are si fut gwai 屎忽鬼 (lit., anus ghost: arsehole, asshole), lunn yeung 撚樣 (lit., penis face: dickface) or puk kai 仆街 (lit., to drop dead in the street: n. prick, prat), or the hostile and offensive term ham gaa chaan 冚家鏟 (ham6 gaa1 caan2: lit., may your whole family be dead).
Merely addressing the troll as professor in retort is already enough of a comeback and also a come-on for the troll to keep rolling in his/her muck to embarrass himself/herself.
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Intransitive verb. A verb that takes no object (i.e. a verb associated with only one noun or noun phrase). In other words, a verb that like to ‘do’ itself — a verb that enjoys wanking.
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Transitive verb. A verb that requires direct subject and one/more objects. In other words, a verb that likes to ‘do’ others.
A subset of the transitive verb is the ditransitive verb, which takes one direct subject and two objects — a verb that enjoys double penetration.
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wankery (adj, n)
See also ACADEMIC WANKERY
Wankery (adj) means:—
- that which has the properties of a wanker
- someone or some thing that has pretentions of being serious and important but is actually a bunch of bullshit
Wankery (n uncountable) means:—
- unnecessary or pretentious noodling (messing around)
- state or quality of being totally f@cking retarded, i.e. a wanker
- the actions of someone making excessive use of soloing techniques (qv)
Some douche in class was trying to impress people with some wankery.
Wankery is often used to describe the actions of someone playing a guitar (and, to a lesser extent, an electric bass). Guitar or bass wankery is most usually when a guitarist or bassist makes excessive use of soloing techniques (qv) such as shrills, taps, slaps and pops, slides, bends, sweeps and the like to the point where it is nothing but self-satisfaction. Since such self-satisfaction is often said to come from showing off such ‘talents’ to people, it has become widely known among guitar/bass-playing circles as wankery.
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hey used to call this Japlish, an invented term made up by ivory-tower-dwelling academics desperate to appear hip and ‘with it.’ The correct term, from the land that brought us ‘weird’ since 1952, is wapanese.
Update 07 July 2012: This is completely wrong. My bad.
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© Learn English or Starve, 2010–2012.
Created and released 21 October 2010
Updated 21 October 2010 (new entries)
Updated 04 November 2010 (new entries, formatting)
Updated 27 November 2010 (new entries, edits, formatting)
Updated 20 January 2011 (new entries, amendments, formatting)
Updated 08 May 2011 (formatting)
Updated 31 May 2011 (entries, formatting)
Updated 20 October 2011 (formatting fixes)
Updated 18 March 2012 (new entry, minor amendments, correcting rude words)
Updated 25 March 2012 (fixing typos, translations, minor reformatting)
Updated 04 April 2012 (correcting typos and missing verbs, adding new material)
Updated 10 May 2012 (added entry on Scots English)
Updated 26 May 2012 (formatting fixes)
Updated 07 July 2012 (new addition: Singlish)