Friday, September 30, 2005

Express Yourself


A few days ago, I came across a fellow blogger who listed some of her favorite expressions.

Then, this morning, I came across a BBC online article. Foreign words with unique uses in their native cultures and in ours.

"My favourite is the French 'l'esprit d'escalier', or spirit of the staircase. This is used to describe the precise moment a person comes up with a clever retort to an embarrassing insult. It is usually after leaving the party, and walking down the stairs that the quip comes to mind."

Ain't that just French for ya? My favorite observation of the French comes from "Blackadder" where, after Napoleon grouses that the English regard them as "Weeds, whoopsies and big girl's blouses!" one of his generals replies, "But we are Whoopsies. We are the nation that invented ballet and the souffle."

French lends richness to us in clever metaphor. Some others are "L'esprit du temps", "Le dernier cri." and "Trompe d'oeil."

As a cultured bunny, I've introduced the following into my perennially-panicked, media workplace. Pretty much describes a unique and different situation we all face together every day.

Namely, the "Crise du jour". This morning, its being served hot on a malfuntioning voice mail server.

"My favourite is 'faire du lèche-vitrines' which literally means 'to lick the windows' and translates as window-shopping."

Comment ca gout, le soupe de Windex?

"It's weird that English doesn't have words for 'vorgestern' (the day before yesterday) and 'Übermorgen' (the day after tomorrow)."

We also don't have words for "Lebensraum", amongst others.

German has an unusual propensity to look down it's teutonic nose at adjectives for some reason.
As a result, Germans tend to pile up adjectives on the front end of their nouns like a chain reaction traffic accident on the Autobahn to Ulm. Nouns take on an ungodly length and compoundedness that scares most first time users of the language away. That and the spit thing. As Mark Twain once noted, "One doesn't speak German with a dry mouth."

"There are a few more interesting German words such as 'handschuhschneeballwerfer', which means somebody, who wears gloves to throw snow balls. It is used in general for all cowards."

Just as when you finish ordering another "Trockenbeerespatausleese", you've sobered up, so too when you get halfway through "handshuhsneeballwerfter" several friends have reminded you that you are insulting their sensei. Whoops.

Or Whoopsie, if you're French.

As usual, the Beeb has missed the logical follow up. Namely, interesting English expressions that we either lend to other cultures or, more than likely, use in ours. Here are some of my favorites and I'd like to post an open invitation to all readers to log in a comment with theirs. I know some of my regular readers, being the wordies they are, must have something to contribute.

FIGMO: Military slang acronym for "Fuck It, I Got My Orders". Essentially a free pass out of a bad situation, like your discharge and transfer home coming up just before a big operation. In civilian life, we've used it when we give two week's notice and we're FIGMO.

Shit Fire and Hold the Matches: From my friend Melba, an expression of amazement straight from Opp, Alabama.

In Dog, Out Sausage: Hammond, Indiana native Bob Caddy taught me this one meaning a quick and simple job.

Coyote Ugly: One step up from paper bag ugly, which is self evident. Coyote ugly would have you chew your arm off rather than risk waking her (or him) by moving it.

Jumpin' Fiddlin' Fuck: A Michael Potter original with a multitude of uses.

There are more, but it's your turn.

11 Comments:

Blogger Kathryn said...

busier than a one armed paper hanger - my dad's and mine favourite expression oh, and Judas Priest

7:10 PM  
Blogger thestraightpoop said...

Busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking conest.

Thanks for the link and BTW I LOVE "licking windows".
Straight Poop

5:08 PM  
Blogger thestraightpoop said...

PS Up to my ass in alligators, too.

5:08 PM  
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