Don’t worry/be greatly disappointed (delete as appropriate): I’m not going to write about Tik Tok. I saw the name of the app recently, and thought about how I haven’t written about the origin of its name, as I have other social media.
But then, there’s not really much to write about, is there? It did set me thinking about tick tock specifically, as well as the curious fact that clocks don’t go tick tock. They go tick tick (and so on).
So why do we say tick tock?
Good question, and one I’ve been asking myself a lot while I’ve been writing lately.
After writing yesterday about how the word revolting comes from the stomach (not literally: that’d be, well, revolting), I was thinking about just how much of a role that organ plays in the English language.
An easy joke, that one there in the title. But have you ever wondered why revolting has two such distinct meanings which let us make the joke in the first place?
I thought about one of those odd little cases in English of a word having two very common but seemingly quite different meanings. I was watching something in which someone convicted of a crime mentioned making an appeal, when I wondered: why can we also say that something is appealing to us?
I came across an interesting mistranslation recently (well, I come across quite a few around Sicily, but you get used to the more ordinary ones after a while). Continue reading
You’re probably familiar with the term bimbo, a pejorative term for a stupid, vacuous (but attractive) woman. It’s one that seems to be used much more in writing, particularly tabloid journalism, than speaking, but one most people well-acquainted with English will probably know.
And recently, bimbo has been joined by himbo, a vacuous, stupid (but attractive) man. Only fair, of course, that there’s a word for the gander as well as the goose. Though the fact there was no male version of bimbo until it was coined recently is also quite revealing of the structural patriarchialism underlying a lot of languages. Or you could also look at it as being male stupidity being taken for granted so much that there was no need to create a specific term for stupid men. Whatever way you see it though, it’s quite curious that bimbo wasn’t actually always so gender specific. Continue reading