Word of the Year

Macquarie Dictionary has chosen ‘milkshake duck’ as their word of the year for 2017. I find this choice a little odd, because before I read the announcement I had never heard or seen this phrase before. I’m guessing that’s because I’m not on FaceBook/Twitter/Instagram/etc, and that their ‘word of the year’ award is actually a ‘social media word of the year’ award.

So for the benefit of those of us who survive life without social media, I have instituted my very own word of the year award … and the winner for 2017 is …

metaphoric homonymous synonymity, n. Using two words that are spelled differently, but sound the same, and have different meanings, but can be used metaphorically to have the same meaning.

e.g. “Don Burke is a berk.”

Coincidence

In any given day tens of thousands of bits of information come our way, so the occasional coincidence is inevitable. Even though they have no particular meaning, I’m still entertained by them. Like today when I visited the Auchmuty Library at Newcastle Library to look up some information in a book. As I ascended the stairs, I noticed the risers had been painted with book spines, and the name of the author “Herzog” caught my attention.

I went into the library and located the room and aisle and shelf where the book I needed should be, glanced at the top shelf to start scanning for the book I wanted, and what was the first author that caught my eye? Herzog! 

Accusurance

I have a grand (and probably unattainable) dream of inventing a word that will make its way into widespread usage in the English speaking world. I’ve tried with “unvaporia”, “shufflendipity”, “unprivacy”, “undergommed”, “disagreeaphobia”, “eco-busted”, “optionitis”, and “misambulist”.

I’m now having a try with …

accusurance. noun. A word or phrase that can either be an accusation or a reassurance, depending on the tone of voice you use.

As an example, in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 and later, if you initiate an action that doesn’t complete immediately you get told that the system is “Working on it …” along with the reassuring message that “This shouldn’t take long.”

Usually it doesn’t take long, but sometimes it does. Sometimes it drags on interminably, and leads to an accusatory response by the user of “This shouldn’t take long!”


Another example of accusurance is the phrase “nice one”, which can either mean a reassuring and gentle expression of appreciation, or a sarcastic accusation of having f***ed up.

Ambivalent

In a post earlier this month I used the word “ambivalent ” when talking about iTunes upgrades. A lot of people think of “ambivalent” as meaning not having a strong feeling on some matter. More correctly, ambivalence is when you have two conflicting feelings at the same time.

A good example of ambivalence is the music that retailers play in their stores. Undoubtedly they target the music they play in the background to cater to the tastes of the demographics of customers in their store, and to make them buy more stuff. I suspect they even fine tune it by the day of week and time of day, so that the music that gets played 10am on a Monday morning will be different to what gets played 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

Yesterday's Hero (song) by John Paul Young.jpgSo when I was in Bunnings the other day and John Paul Young’s “Yesterday’s Hero” is played, I am both simultaneously delighted to be hearing my favourite song of 1975, (and knowing that JPY will be collecting a few cents more in royalties), but at the same time disgusted that a retail behemoth is trying to mess with my mind and affect my buying behaviour. Ambivalence.

Now in a curious coincidence an interview with JPY appeared in the Newcastle Herald today, in which he recounts how he was in Bunnings the other day and was recognised, but only as someone “who looks like John Paul Young.”