"New sun, new air, new sky. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there's all that life out there?" -The Doctor
"Asking a linguist how many languages they speak is like asking a doctor how many diseases they have." -Unknown

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oh dear...

So, uh, I was intending to post after the airing of The Time of Angels and somehow seem to have messed up the TARDIS controls and overshot by a month or so. Sorry!

No, really, I haven't given up on updating this blog. It's just that Angels threw me for a bit of a loop; I still don't really know what I want to say about it. Don't fret, I'll figure it out eventually. Also, the delay gives me the advantage of appearing to follow the BBCA broadcast schedule, thereby not spoiling episodes as yet unreleased in America and avoiding the whole you-can't-use-iPlayer-so-how-do-you-watch-Doctor-Who-on-the-British-schedule kerfuffle. It's magic, I tell you.

In the meantime, have an adorable Britishism: faff. According to UrbanDictionary, it means to "muck about" (aw, that's delightfully British as well, innit!) or "waste time doing nothing/something unnecessary." Hmm, sounds like what I did today. Anyway, I like this word not only because it has a handy meaning neatly condensed into a single word, but it's also oddly entertaining to say and makes you feel a complete loony when you say it. Go on, try it: "faff." For some reason that I can't begin to fathom, this word reminds me of ducks. Specifically, duck feathers. Maybe because the mental image I associate with this particular sequence of phonemes is someone fluttering their hands uselessly with a vaguely distraught and bemused look shining in their eyes, rather like a duckling halfway across a motorway. "Faff." It also sounds to me (although I'm sure it's unrelated) like a twee replacement for the f-word.

Maybe because that rhymes with "duck"? Now I'm just confused.

Anyway, I highly recommend this word. Another one I quite like (although don't think I've ever encountered it in the wild, i.e. spontaneously elicited in speech, so I'm a bit vague on its usage) is "twee", which I've employed above. Again thanks to UrbanDictionary, we have "to be obnoxiously sweet, or quaint...disingenuous, corny, or effeminate." It seems to me that the best that Americanglish can offer in response is "saccharine" ("cloyingly agreeable or ingratiating; exaggeratedly sweet or sentimental"), which both lacks the sense of falseness and has the disadvantage of being distractingly pompous-sounding. "Twee" has the distinct advantage, like "faff", of fitting its phonemic form to its sense and meaning. I therefore recommend that both "faff" (and "faff about"; if we're going to do this, we might as well do it properly) and "twee" be adopted by all English speakers forthwith.

As I've written the above (in what has become an unexpectedly long post with a disproportionate number of brackets), I've noticed that my language is changing. Did you note the increased frequency of the present perfect instead of the simple past, the use of lexical items like "quite" and "proper", and the elevated register? I blame this, solely and entirely, on the BBC, especially Top Gear and Life on Mars. Britainglish is getting into my head.

Anyway: More Doctor Who reviews and other nonsense coming soon!

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