A language is a living ‘being’. It’s used, re-used, adapted, invented, reinvented and dumped by us human beings.
If we like a word or phrase, we’ll take it, use it over and over again until we own it. And if we don’t like a word or expression or it’s not important to us, we’ll soon drop it for another one.
I don’t know about other languages (please correct me if I am wrong), but I think the English Language is the most versatile and creative language in the world when judged by the rate at which new words or new combinations of existing words are introduced to the language every day, week, month or year.
I love reading Cambridge Dictionary’s blog “About Words” and scrolling through the new words they’ve found in the media. Some words are quite ridiculous and you know will not last, whilst others do become part of the language – “selfie”; “photobomb”, “mancation”; “mansplaining”.
I thought I’d finish the series of words in the news by sharing 8 new words that caught my attention.
I’d love you to tell me which word or words you think deserve to be a permanent part of the English Language.
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Definition: “any activity that combines exercise with networking, such as going to the gym with business clients”
According to the CEO of a non-profit fitness lobby UK Active: “It’s an efficient way to get some exercise while developing a greater rapport with clients and colleagues.” [Men’s Health, 5 September 2017]
I don’t know about you but I sweat A LOT when I work out. The thought of exercising while networking with business clients sounds revolting!
Definition: “a computer system that uses algorithms and other software to provide financial advice”.
Combining ‘robot’ with ‘adviser’. [Sunday Times, 2 July 2017]
You’re looking for financial advice. Instead of speaking to a real person, you answer online questions about your financial goals and attitude to risk. The robo-adviser then suggests suitable portfolios that it will manage for you.
Mmmm, I am sceptical…I would still want to speak to a real person. How about you?
Definition: “the act of increasing the price of goods or services beyond what is considered fair, normally during a state of emergency”
Combining “price” with “ gouge”
Gouge means to make a hole in something.
Here’s how price-gouging is used:
“As Hurricane Irma … hits the northeast Caribbean, Florida residents are already seeing price gouging for items like water, food and gas as they prepare for the storm that is on track to reach parts of the state by the weekend. Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi opened a price-gouging hotline for residents to report these instances, and a “high volume of complaints” have already rolled in since it opened on Monday.” [www.time.com, 7 September 2017]
It took me a while to understand why the word ‘gouge’ was selected and this is what I think. Prices normally have a minimum and maximum limit (we hope!) Now imagine these limits as barriers, and you make (gouge) a hole in the maximum barrier allowing the price to go through that barrier uncontrollably.
What do you think?
#4: reverse – vending
Definition: “the activity of putting empty plastic bottles into a machine so that they can be recycled, and getting a small amount of money back for each one.”
The issue of plastic bottle recycling has been a topic of discussion in the news for a few months now with different proposals being put forward on how to tackle this serious environmental problem.
“Detailed work is expected to begin this month on how a “deposit-return” scheme for bottles and cans might work in Scotland. One of the radical schemes likely to be considered is “reverse vending”, where the empty plastic bottles are fed into a network of machines in shops and supermarkets. The system has operated for decades in many Scandinavian countries where recycling rates are about double our own.” [www.bbc.co.uk/news, 4 September 2017]
Vending = selling – we use vending with machine as in vending machine (think of those machines in supermarkets, train stations, hospitals where you can buy a drink or snack.)
reverse = opposite
Food and drinks companies sell to us through the vending machines. What they’re suggesting here is doing the opposite (reverse). We return the empty plastic bottles to the vending machine and receive a small amount of money for each bottle.
And there’s your word “reverse-vending”.
#5: slow gifting
Definition: “the activity of shopping carefully and thoughtfully for gifts, and buying high-quality, often handmade items from small shops or individual sellers.”
We had slow food, and now we have slow gifting. I like this idea of taking your time looking for a gift for someone, and rather than buying them many cheaper gifts, opting for one meaningful, maybe expensive, gift instead. The focus is on quality, not quantity or as we say in English: “less is more.”
It brings back the idea of savouring the experience of searching, reflecting and finally, buying the gift.
I may just adopt slow gifting as a hobby.
#6: screen fatigue
Definition: “the situation where people feel they spend too much time reading text on an e-reader, tablet, etc.”
The expression comes from an article in the Guardian newspaper (27 April 2017) about how people have been reverting (going back) to reading printed books leaving their e-readers behind because they’ve been suffering from “screen fatigue”.
We’ve all experienced ‘screen fatigue’ at one stage or other. I know I often need to rest my eyes after staring at a screen all day. However, I still love my Kindle and am not about to give up on it.
I am happy to divide my reading between the two formats. How about you?
Definition: “a period of time during which someone works for a company or organization in order to get experience of returning to employment after taking time off”.
Ok, the definition sounds more complicated than the word itself! Let me clarify.
The word is a combination of ‘return’ and ‘internship’.
An internship describes a period of time when a person works for a company to get work experience and training of a particular type of job. The majority of people who apply for an internship are students fresh out of college or university.
“Returnship” refers to a person (normally a woman) who’s taken a long career break, say to raise a family, and returns to the company. They may spend a period of time re-training before going back to their original position in the company.
I can see how this would work especially for professional women, like lawyers, doctors, accountants, architects, who held senior roles in a company before taking a career break and need to update their skills before returning to their roles. It’s an excellent way of encouraging women back to the workplace.
#8: ikea effect
Definition: “the tendency to like something more if you have built or created it yourself”.
I bet you have a piece of furniture you bought from Ikea, the Swedish store. Did you have to assemble it? Was it hard? Did you feel like you needed a PhD to put it together?
How did you feel when you finished? Proud? Amazed?
How do you feel every time you look at it? Do you ‘fall in love’ with it a little more each time?
According to psychologists, ‘there’s a phenomenon in psychology known as the “Ikea effect”. Putting together Ikea furniture makes people like it more, and what holds true for … Swedish furniture can also be applied to our lives more broadly. When we devote ourselves to difficult but worthwhile tasks, our lives feel more significant.’ [Red magazine, February 2017]
It’s so true, isn’t it? The harder we work at something that’s worthwhile, the better we feel about ourselves.
Imagine you have to prepare and give a presentation in English. You work super hard preparing for it, practising it. The preparation stresses you out and you’re nervous when giving the presentation. But when you get through it and the response from your audience is an overwhelming yes, you feel on top of the world.
There is no better feeling in the world. You’ve just experienced the Ikea effect.
Which of these new expressions could you see yourself using and why?
I’d love you to tell me.
Don’t stop there, though.
Why not look for new words yourself? Check out Cambridge Dictionary’s blog “About Words” and pick your favourite expressions and share them with the EWAT community in the comments box.
Ciao for now