Archive | December, 2011

Quixotic

29 Dec

2012 resolutionsIt’s nearly New Year’s Eve! It’s time to come up with a list of things you swear you’ll achieve in 2012! Like “Subscribe to Literate Chicken’s blog/tell everyone about it!” and “Buy Literate Chicken a decent poultry-themed joke book” – you know, that sort of thing.

Anyway, before the new year rolls around, it’s time to learn one last word for 2011. Someone recently asked me the definition of this word, but I didn’t know the answer. “To the internet!” I cried (in my head, because I’m not completely obnoxious all the time).

That word, ladles and jellyspoons, was quixotic. And it turns out, according to Merriam-Webster, that it means:

foolishly impractical, especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action.

(Interesting fact: my friend pronounced it “quicks-otic”. I thought she may have been wrong, but it turns out that’s how you’re supposed to say it. Huh.)

SO, neatly linking my introduction with this definition, I would just like to warn you against making any quixotic resolutions this new year. Sure, foolishly impractical and lofty aims are a great idea, but when it’s 31 December 2012 and you realise you never did lose that 20kg, run a marathon or start a vegie co-op with your neighbours you’ll just feel bad about yourself.

It’s probably best to just stick to the classics.

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Cracker-style japes

21 Dec

Christmas chickenI’m doing a lot of reading lately, all of it research for a new writing project I’m embarking on. Specifically, this one. The plan is to write five chapters of a YA novel by the end of February 2012, have the good people over at Hardie Grant Egmont begging for the rest, and the next thing you know I’m a published author. It’s just that easy!

In the meantime, however, it’s Christmas! So here are some ‘humorous’ Christmas cracker style jokes to share with your loved ones over a freshly picked chicken carcass this December 25.

Why did the rooster get a tattoo?
He wanted to impress the chicks.

Where are chicks born?
In Chick-cago.

What do you get when you cross a chicken with a centipede?
A media circus about the debate over the morals and ethics of genetic engineering.

Happy holidays!

And the 2011 winners are…

2 Dec

It’s December, and you know what that means – stressing about another year having passed while your goals are inexplicably further away than ever! No? Just me then? Ahem, moving on…

December is when the when lexicographers unveil their words of the year. Exciting times!

The Oxford English Dictionary gave us a shortlist of 10 words, each one chosen to reflect the ethos – or “flavour” – of 2011. Different lists were made for UK and US audiences, but the chosen word of the year was the same for both countries: ‘squeezed middle’. (It’s worth noting that the OED recognises two-word expressions as compounds, which is why it’s counted as one word.)

So what does this title-winning word mean, according to the OED?

squeezed middle

Squeezed middle: the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes, and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those people on low or middle incomes.

Or, as Ed Miliband, the British MP who coined the word, explains: “[The squeezed middle is] around the average income, but below and above the average income.”

Right, just about everyone then.

Some of the other words on the OED list are to be expected in current times: ‘occupy’, ‘ the 99%’, ‘crowdfunding’… and, somewhat randomly, Berlusconi’s ‘bunga bunga’.

But that’s just the OED. The dictionary.com team came to a different conclusion for its word of the year, choosing a word that “aptly defines the spirit of 2011, even if the choice is obscure”. And obscure it was – drum roll please…

Tergiversate: to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.

Try to work ‘tergiversate’ into a conversation today!

Meanwhile, in Holland, it was a democratic process, with the public visiting the Dutch Institute of Lexicology website to vote on words. Their winner? ‘Wild knitting’, which is the practice of knitting items to cover poles, trees, statues and other public items. You might also know it as yarn bombing or street/graffiti knitting.

The Dutch runner-up was also interesting – it was ‘infobesity’, the word used to describe what happens when you overdose on information gleaned through the wonders of modern technology.

So there you go! As my mother is fond of saying, “You learn something new every day.” Well, she doesn’t say the learned information will always be helpful.