A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

15 August 2009

Numpties, Dolts and Twits, Oh My!

Have you ever wondered why we say the things we do? How all our words ended up in our vocabulary and why some haven't?

There are plenty of words out there - just open up any book-form dictionary and you'll see them...word after word...page after page. Most of them have never been uttered by the majority of people...and with 140 characters on Twitter...even less will be. But, look where they've originally come from: France, Germanic, Celtic, Old Norse, Upper Slobovia, Old English, and so forth. (Okay, I might have taken a tiny liberty there.)

Granted, French people speak French, Italian people speak Italian, and so on ad infinitum...but, England - they speak the same language as we do, right? Then why is it we can't understand some of their words?

When you really think about it - why did some of their language come over here....why is some of it so incredibly foreign to us...and, to add confusion to madness, why are some words we speak the same - but mean something totally different?

Even Craig Ferguson makes reference to this from time to time with his "fanny" bit - which should not be at all confused with an English "fanny" bit - because that's something else entirely.

The newest word that I've seen make it "over the pond" as it were, would be "wonky". Five years ago you'd be hard pressed to find anyone saying it here except for the stray person who'd also be blurting out "twit", "daft" and "lovely". Now, I've heard it on television even just today - Liza Minnelli was on Craig Ferguson's show and sure enough, "wonky" popped out of her mouth. Even people in Alabama are gravitating toward all things wonky...but, I have to admit, the day I hear Jeff Foxworthy incorporate, "Y'all watch this...it'll be bleedin' wonky..." into his redneck routine...well, that's the day...well, that one there...heck, that's GOT to be one of the signs of the Apocalypse for sure.

Now, I'm not at all insinuating America is full of dolts and numpties; but I'm also not saying all things English make a whole lot of sense either.

I sometimes watch a show on the BBC Channel called "Bargain Hunt" - a very dapper, slightly engaging, yet irritating man, hosts it. The gist of the show is - two teams of paired contestants get a set amount of money and then they're tasked to look around the flea market and buy a few items to be auctioned off the following week...the team who fetches more for their trinkets there will be declared the winner and can keep the proceeds. This host is always saying typically British things, as well, he should...but he's partial to one saying in particular, "Cheap as chips." Okay...I guess the chips he means are the ones we call French fries here...or are they potato chips...they certainly can't be poker chips...but hmmm...this isn't a cooking show or anything, so who really knows.

Speaking of cooking shows -- on "The Food Channel" they have another British guy, Robert Irvine, who hosts "Dinner Impossible" where he is given some nearly impossible task, such as "Make Dinner for all these New Jersey Roller Derby Chicks...but there can't be ANY utensils - you've got eight hours - go shopping". Oh, they've put him in all kinds of fun situations and he's always pulled thru in the end. The phrase he fancies is, "It's as different as chalk and cheese".

Now, here in the States we have "comparing apples to oranges" - not sure if they have it there in the UK...but it definitely would have fit in very nicely in a food-based show. But "chalk and cheese"? Why not toadstools and turpentine, tea-cakes and scones? Oh well, it's a saying...what can I say?

I am sure the influence of words - crossing into both culture's vocabulary happening -- rises exponentially due to films, television shows and the Internet...and I'd give you $20.00 - that's 12.0940 GBP - just to hear the Queen say "Fo shizzle"...but that's probably as likely as her saying "Oh, sod off"...well, at least with the cameras rolling.

So, while I can't do anything to influence the Queen, I will focus on myself and continue to do my part calling people "twits" as I have since I was a kid, calling things "wonky" as I have for the last few years, and, my newest favourite acquisition, calling people "numpties"...well, until people start knowing what it means - then I'll move on to something quite unheard of here.

After all, there's always more words where "those" came from. ;)


  1. Do the English say "boobies"? Cuz I do.

  2. We have the same problem with Afrikaans and Dutch. There's a word in Afrikaans that means "great" and when you use it in Dutch, you're practically telling the person you're either high or seeing supernatural beings. Don't you just love languages?!

  3. Love this subject of this blog!! Yep, there seems to be a "two-way street" in communiction from "over the pond" and the outcome can be downright funny. I must now take my leave as my eyes have gone all wonky.

  4. Yes, it's funny the way language works like that. Another is "knock you up in the morning" - which, to Brits just means giving you a call - well, you certainly don't want to get "knocked up" in the morning or anytime else usually right after meeting in a bar...the US version means "getting pregnant". How one can be so different than the other - is beyond me.

    And I don't know too much about Afrikaans - is it very similar to Dutch?

  5. The English don't say "boobies"...not when given the choice between "saying, looking, or touching".

    Shhhhh - I would be more witty - but I just took an Ambien and it's the first day of school and we have that tropical storm coming at us - and I have two hours of "balance checks" for my Vertigo at the doctor's today. It's always fun to venture out in the rain with my intermittant windshield wipers that work...well...intermittently.

  6. Yes quite, Dutch had a very big influence in how Afrikaans developed as a language. It's nice to go to Holland and still speak your own language AND be understood on top of it all ;)

  7. Nice work, Mariann. I'm going to figure out a way to work "wonky" into a future post.

  8. I had no idea wonky was an exclusive (or even largely) English saying. I've been saying that most of my life. I just thought it came about from Willy Wonka. Wonka, wonky. Weird. My bf goes a bit wonky whenever I use that word. He thinks it's silly and strange.