Archive for May, 2012

This is the UK, Mate! (British Slang is Ace! #2)

Here is the second part of my previous post. For those who did not read the introduction, I have quoted it below:

Well, if you plan to visit the UK, you should definetely know what kind of slang they use. We know most of the American slang thanks to Hollywood movies and TV shows :) However, the British media or movie industry is less exposing. When we turn the radio on, the probability of hearing an American song is higher than a British song. Anyway… The point is we are less familiar with the details of British English. I tried to be picky while selecting the words from the list with the fear of offending someone. I hope my article is informative rather than rude :) It is a very long list so I want to publish it in 2 or 3 parts.

Gutted – If someone is really upset by something they might say that they were gutted. Like when you are told that you have just failed your driving test!

Haggle – To haggle is to argue or negotiate over a price. Most people that wangle stuff are usually quite good at haggling.

Hard lines – This is another way of saying hard luck or bad luck.

Hash – The thing you call a pound sign! Before you ask, yes it is also something you smoke – see wacky backy. Also to make a real hash of something means you reallyscrewed it up.

Her Majesty’s pleasure – When visiting England, try to avoid being detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure. This means being put in prison with no release date!

Hiya – Short for hi there, this is a friendly way of saying hello.

Honking – Honking is being sick or throwing up. Presumably this is a problem in New York where there are signs on the streets that say “No Honking”.

Hunky-dory – My English dictionary tells me that hunky-dory means excellent. We would generally use it to mean that everything is cool and groovy, on plan, no worries and generally going well.

I’m easy – This expression means I don’t care or it’s all the same to me. Not to be confused with how easy it is to lure the person into bed!

Jolly – You hear people use this in all sorts of ways, but basically it means very. So “jolly good” would mean very good. A common exception is where you hear people say “I should jolly well think so!” which is more to emphasise the point.

Khazi – Another word for the toilet. Our version of your bathroom.

Knackered – The morning after twenty pints and the curry, you’d probably feel knackered. Another way to describe it is to say you feel shagged. Basically worn out, good for nothing, tired out, knackered.

Knuckle sandwich – If somebody offers you a knuckle sandwich you’d be best to decline the offer and leave at the next convenient moment. It isn’t some British culinary delight – they’re about to thump you in the face.

Leg it – This is a way of saying run or run for it. Usually said by kids having just been caught doing something naughty. Well it was when I was a kid!

Lurgy – If you have the lurgy it means you are ill, you have the Flu. Don’t go near people with the lurgy in case you get it!

Luvvly-jubbly – Clearly another way of saying lovely. Made famous by the TV show Only Fools and Horses.

-ly – These are two letters that seem to be left off words in America. I never heard anyone say something was “really nice” or “really cool”, they would say real nice andreal cool. We would be sent to the back of the class for grammar like that!

Mate – Most chaps like to go to the pub with their mates. Mate means friend or chum.

Momentarily – As you come into land at an American airport and the announcement says that you will be landing momentarily, look around to see if anyone is sniggering. That will be the Brits! I never did figure out why they say this. Momentarily to us means that something will only happen for an instant – a very short space of time. So if the plane lands momentarily will there be enough time for anyone to get off? Weird!

Mug – If someone is a bit of a mug, it means they are gullible. Most used car salesmen rely on a mug to show up so they can sell something!

Narked – In the UK you would say that someone looked narked if you thought they were in a bad mood. In the US you might say that someone was pissed. We definitely would not say that, as it would mean they were drunk!

Nice one! – If someone does something particularly impressive you might say “nice one”! to them. It is close the Texan good job that you hear all the time.

Nicked – Something that has been stolen has been nicked. Also, when a copper catches a burglar red handed he might say “you’ve been nicked”!

Not my cup of tea – This is a common saying that means something is not to your liking. For example if someone asked you if you would like to go to an all night rave, they would know exactly what you meant if you told them it was not exactly your cup of tea!

Nowt – This is Yorkshire for nothing. Similarly owt is Yorkshire for anything. Hence the expression “you don’t get owt for nowt”. Roughly translated as “you never get anything for nothing” or “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.

Off colour – If someone said you were off colour they would mean that you look paleand ill! Not quite the same as something being off colour in the US!

Off your trolley – If someone tells you that you’re off your trolley, it means you have gone raving bonkers, crazymad!

On about – What are you on about? That’s something you may well hear when visiting the UK. It means what are you talking about?

Pants – This is quite a new expression – I have no idea where it came from. Anyway, it is now quite trendy to say that something which is total crap is “pants”. For instance you could say the last episode of a TV show was “total pants”.

Pardon me – This is very amusing for Brits in America. Most kids are taught to say “pardon me” if they fart in public or at the table etc. In America it has other meanings which take us Brits a while to figure out. I thought I was surrounded by people with flatulence problems!

Thanks for VousDeux for this precious information. This is all I know about the author. You can reach his/her posts on StumbleUpon by clicking here. If you come across this book, please give me the link so that I can buy! 🙂

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For the first part, click here.

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British Slang is Ace!

Well, if you plan to visit UK, you should definetely know what kind of slang they use. We know most of American slang thanks to Hollywood movies and TV series 🙂 However, British media or movie industry is less exposing. When we turn the radio on, our chance to hear an American song is higher than a British song. Anyway… The point is we are less familiar with the details of British English. I tried to be picky while selecting the words from the list with the fear of offending someone. I hope my article is informative rather than rude 🙂 It is a very long list so I want to publish it in 2 or 3 parts.

Ace – If something is ace it is awesome. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.

Aggro – Short for aggravation, it’s the sort of thing you might expect at a football match.

Anti-clockwise – The first time I said that something had gone anti-clockwise to someone in Texas I got this very funny look. It simply means counter-clockwise but must sound really strange to you chaps! I think he thought I had something against clocks!

Any road – Up north (where they talk funny!!) instead of saying anyway, they say “any road”! Weird huh?

As well – You chaps say also when we would say “too” or “as well”. For instance if my friend ordered a Miller Lite, I would say “I’ll have one as well”. I often heard people saying something like “I’ll have one also”. You’d be more likely to hear someone in England ordering a pint of lager!

Baccy – Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.

Barmy – If someone tells you that you’re barmy they mean you have gone mad orcrazy. For example you’d have to be barmy to visit England without trying black pudding!

Beastly – You would call something or somebody beastly if they were really nasty orunpleasant. Most people would consider you a snob or an upper class git if you used this word. People like Fergie can get away with it though.

Belt up – For some reason I heard this quite a lot as a kid. It’s the British for shut up.

Best of British – If someone says “The best of British to you” when you are visiting the UK, it simply means good luck. It is short for “best of British luck”.

Bite your arm off – This is not aggressive behaviour that a football fan might engage in. In fact it just means that someone is over excited to get something. For instance you might say that kids would bite your arm off for an ice cream on a sunny day.

ven “bugger and blast”!

Blatant – We use this word a lot to mean something is really obvious.

Bleeding – An alternative to the word bloody. You’ll hear people say “bleeding hell” or “not bleeding likely” for example.

Blimey – Another exclamation of surprise. My Dad used to say “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey” or even “Cor Blimey”. It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.

Blinding – If something is a blinding success – it does not mean that any eyes were poked out with sharp sticks – it means it was awesome.

see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.

Bloody – One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. “bloody hell” or “bloody nora”. Something may be “bloody marvellous” or “bloody awful”. It is also used to emphasise almost anything, “you’re bloody mad”, “not bloody likely” and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. “Abso-bloody-lutely”! Americans should avoid saying “bloody” as they sound silly.

Blow me – When an English colleague of mine exclaimed “Blow Me” in front of a large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an exclamation of surprise, short for “Blow me down”, meaning something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Well knock me down with a feather”. It is not a request for services to be performed.

Blunt – If a saw or a knife is not sharp we say it is blunt. It is also the way most of us speak! In America the knife would be dull.

Bob’s your uncle – This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that’s it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob’s your uncle!

Bodge – We bodge things all the time here. I’m sure you do too! To do a bodge job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or two and if it falls down after that – hey well we only bodged it! Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.

Bomb – If something costs a bomb it means that it is really expensive. We say it when we see the price of insurance in the US, you could try saying it when you see how much jeans or petrol cost over here!

Bomb – If something goes like a bomb it means it is going really well or really fast. Or you could say an event went down like a bomb and it would mean that the people really enjoyed it. In the US the meaning would be almost exactly the reverse.

Bottle – Something you have after twenty pints of lager and a curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.

Box your ears – Many young chaps heard their dads threaten to box their ears when I was a littlun. Generally meant a slap around the head for misbehaving. Probably illegal these days!!

Bung – To bung something means to throw it. For example a street trader might bung something in for free if you pay cash right now! Or you could say “bung my car keys over, mate“. A bung is also a bribe.

Butchers – To have a butchers at something is to have a look. This is a cockney rhyming slang word that has become common. The reason “butchers” means a lookeven though it doesn’t rhyme is because it is short for “butchers hook” and “hook” of course, does rhyme.

Cheerio – Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. Or in the north “tara” which is pronounced sort of like “churar”.

Chinese Whispers – This a good one. It refers to the way a story gets changed as is passes from one person to the next so that the end result may be completely different from what was originally said. Sound familiar?

Chivvy along – When I’m standing patiently in the checkout queue at Tesco I like to chivvy along the old ladies in front of me. If only they would stop fannying around andhurry up!

Chuffed – You would be chuffed to bits if you were really pleased about something.

Cock up – A cock up means you have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body.

Cor – You’ll often hear a Brit say “cor”! It is another one of those expressions of surprise that we seem to have so many of. It will sometimes be lengthened to “cor blimey” or “cor love a duck”, depending on where you are. “Cor blimey” is a variation of “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey”. They are all a corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Cracking – If something is cracking, it means it is the best. Usually said without pronouncing the last “G”. If a girl is cracking it means she is stunning.

Cram – Before a big exam you would be expected to cram. This simply means to study hard in the period running up to the exam.

Dekko – To have a look at something.

Dear – If something is dear it means it is expensive. I thought Texan insurance was dear.

DIY – This is short for do it yourself and applies not just to the DIY stores but also to anything that you need to do yourself. For example, if we get really bad service in a restaurant (oh, you noticed!) then we might ask the waiter if it is a DIY restaurant – just to wind them up.

Do – A party. You would go to a do if you were going to a party in the UK.

Do – If you go into a shop and say “do you do batteries?” it means “do you sellbatteries”.

Do – If you drive along a motorway in the wrong lane the police will do you. You could then tell your friends that you have been done by the police. Prosecute is another word for it!

Dodgy – If someone or something is a bit dodgy, it is not to be trusted. Dodgy food should be thrown away at home, or sent back in a restaurant. Dodgy people are best avoided. You never know what they are up to. Dodgy goods may have been nicked. When visiting Miami I was advised by some English chums that certain areas were a bit dodgy and should be avoided!

Donkey’s years – Someone said to me the other day that they hadn’t seen me for donkey’s years. It means they hadn’t seen me for ages.

Easy Peasy – A childish term for something very easy. You might say it’s a snap.

Fanny around – I’m always telling people to stop fannying around and get on with it. It means to procrastinate. Drives me mad!

Fluke – If something great happened to you by chance that would be a fluke. When I was a kid my Mum lost her engagement ring on the beach and only realised half way home. We went back to the spot and she found it in the sand. That was a fluke.

Full monty – Since the movie has come out of the same name I have heard some odd Texan descriptions of what the full monty means. It really has nothing to do with taking your clothes off. It just means the whole thing or going the whole way. That’s it. Clearly when applied to stripping it means not stopping at your underwear! The origins of the expression are still under discussion. There are many theories but no conclusive evidence at the moment.

Gen – Gen means information. If you have the gen then you know what is going on.

Give us a bell – This simply means call me. You often hear people use the word “us” to mean “me”.

Gormless – A gormless person is someone who has absolutely no clue. You would sayclueless. It is also shortened so you could say someone is a total gorm or completely gormy.

Grub – Food. Similar to nosh. I remember my Dad calling “grub’s up”, when dinner was ready as a kid. A grub is also an insect larva. Not usually eaten in England. Actually is available in some Australian restaurants!

Thanks for VousDeux for this precious information. This is all I know about the author. You can reach his/her posts on StumbleUpon by clicking here.

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Does Your Language Sound Weird?

Three years ago, I went to the US with a cultural exchange programme. I spent my whole summer there so it was my first time to stay abroad for such a long time. In the same house, we were eight people: four students from Russia, three students from China and me from Turkey 🙂 It was very awkward because I had no one to chat to in Turkish. One day, after a telephone call to my parents, one of my Russian friends said “I always hear many -s sounds when you speak Turkish”. Until that moment, I had not paid attention to this issue at all. I had not thought how Turkish sounded to a foreigner 🙂 Now, whenever I make a friend from a new country, I ask how my language sounds. They all answer differently though 🙂 Recently, I came across a short article highlighting a similar question: how a foreigner sees your language. The author says “You just speak” because it is your native language but you do not know how it sounds or how hard it is to learn. I want to thank Silvia for publishing this on lexiophiles.com. Here is the article. You can visit this website to read more:

Have you ever thought that your language could seem strange to a foreigner?
When you are in your own country you don’t really care about your language,you speak it and that’s it. The important thing is to communicate a message, in a plain or in a more refined way.

But imagine that a person is trying to learn your language and tells you what he thinks about it. The things he could say might be regarding these points:

– Pronunciation: is there a rule in your language to understand how to pronounce the words (e.g. accents)?

– Sentence structure: what about the position of subject, verb and object in a sentence?

– Gender: how can you understand if a word is a masculine or a feminine one?

– And most important, how about exception to rules?

It is much easier to pay attention to these “details” when you are learning a new language.

On the other hand when you were learning your language at the primary school you did and had to pay attention to grammar, pronunciation and so on. But years go by, and once you can speak correctly and without thinking – about the structure of the sentences, grammar etc. – in your language it is not a problem any more. So you never think again about how difficult it was to learn it.

On the contrary, your foreign friend who is learning your language does think about all this stuff, and you are surprised by the fact that it’s so natural for you to speak it without concentrating on it…while for him it is not! But if you see the thing from his point of view, is it really clear (without knowing it before) how to pronounce a word, or write a sentence in a correct way? Is there a precise rule for this?

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Have You Ever Thought about How We Form the Idioms/Phrases?

In a conversation, we do not realize how much-and how- we make use of idioms and phrases. Recently, I have deciphered a speech into text. The man used so many idioms and phrases that I am surprised. Later on, I have begun to pay attention to my speech as far as I can. We really use them a lot 🙂 I also realized that our ancestors attributed some meanings to the body parts. One of their favorites is “the eye”. Yes, we have tens of phrases related to the eye at some point. I tried to find the most popular ones, but you can always add more!

 Blink of an eye:   If something happens in the blink of an eye, it happens nearly instantaneously, with hardly enough time to notice it. “The pickpocket disappeared in the blink of an eye.”

Catch somebody’s  eye: If someone catches your eye, you find them attractive. “The pretty girl near the door caught his eye.”

Clap/lay/set eyes on someone: If you clap eyes on someone or something, you look at or see them. “I’ve heard of him but I’ve never clapped eyes on him.”

More than meets the eye: When something (or someone) is more complicated, difficult or interesting that it appears, it is said that there is more than meets the eye. “He said he simply sold his shares, but I think there’s more to it than meets the eye.”

See eye to eye with someone: To see eye to eye with somebody means that you agree with them.

Turn a blind eye to something: If you turn a blind eye to something, you ignore it intentionally.

The apple of your eye: If somebody is the apple of your eye, this means that you like them  very much. “My grandson is the apple of my eye”.

The eye of the storm: A person or organization who is in the eye of the storm is deeply involved in a difficult situation which affects a lot of people. “The minister was often in the eye of the storm during the debate on the war in Iraq.”

Eagle eyes: Someone who has eagle eyes sees or notices things more easily than others. “Tony will help us find it – he’s got eagle eyes!”

Eyes in the back of one’s head: To say that someone has eyes in the back of their head means that they are very observant and notice everything happening around them. “You need eyes in the back of your head to look after young children.”

Feast one’s eyes on something: If you feast your eyes on something, you are delighted and gratified by what you see. “As he drove along the coast, he feasted his eyes on the beautiful scenery.”

Eyes like a hawk: If you’ve got eyes like a hawk, you’ve got good eyesight and notice every detail. “Of course Dad will notice the scratch on his car – he’s got eyes like a hawk!  ”

Half an eye: If you have or keep half an eye on something, you watch something without giving it your full attention. “She kept half en eye on the tv screen while she was preparing dinner.”

In one’s mind’s eye: If you can visualise something, or see an image of it in your mind, you see it in your mind’s eye. “I can see the village in my mind’s eye but I can’t remember the name.”

In the twinkling of an eye: This expression means ‘very fast’ or ‘instantaneously’. “Public opinion can change in the twinkling of an eye.”

Look someone in the eyes: If you look someone in the eye, or eyes, you look at them directly so as to convince them that you are telling the truth, even though you may be lying.

Eyes wide open: If you do something with your eyes open, you are fully aware of what you are doing. “I took on the job with my eyes wide open, so I’m not complaining.”

A sight for sore eyes: This expression refers to a person or thing you are happy to see. “Sam! You’re a sight for sore eyes!  Haven’t seen you in a long time.”

Raise eyebrows: If you raise your eyebrows at something, you show surprise or disapproval by the expression on your face. “When the boss arrived in jeans, there were a lot of raised eyebrows.”

Spit in someone’s eye: If you spit in someone’s eye, you treat that person with disrespect or contempt. “You father raised you as best he could. Don’t start spitting in his eye.”

Not bat an eyelid: To say that somebody does not bat an eyelid means that they do not seem shocked or surprised, nor are they nervous or worried. They show no emotion.

Thank you learn-english-today.com for this wonderful compilation.

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Translation and the Human Rights in Africa

Last year, I published a video about “Translators Without Borders”. As most of you know, this organization brings the voluntary translators together and tries to provide important translations to those who are in need. Africa is one of those regions. A recent study shows that with translation, we can save lifes and protect human rights in Africa. This makes sense because if you have the translation, the knowledge of different practices in the world (this may be medical, human rights etc.), you can better compare and defend your rights with concrete proofs in your hand. No need to get too far. 10% of world’s population lives in Africa and there are 2000 different languages. These languages are also needed to be translated. When they do not understand each other, they cannot contribute to politics together, they do not recognize their own legal rights, they cannot prevent the conflicts that arise from misunderstandings. Here is the article from the web site of Common Sense Advisory. Thanks author for highlighting the study of Translators Without Borders.

“Translation is critical for addressing information inequalities in Africa. But could translation also improve economic development, health, human rights, and safety of the citizens of Africa? Findings from a new study reveal that the answer is “yes.”

A new study conducted by Common Sense Advisory on behalf of Translators without Borders finds that translation is critical for the public health, political stability, and social wellbeing of African nations. The report surveyed 364 translators for African languages in 49 countries representing a total of 269 different language combinations. The results are detailed in a new report, “The Need for Translation in Africa,” which is available as a free download at:http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Portals/0/downloads/Africa.pdf.

“We already knew that translation for Africa was severely lacking,” comments Lori Thicke, founder of Translators without Borders. “This report clearly shows that the need for translation is so striking that, for the sake of African citizens, it simply can no longer be ignored.”

“63.07% of respondents said greater access to translated information could have prevented the death of someone in their family or circle of friends,” explains Tahar Bouhafs, CEO of Common Sense Advisory. “This is clear proof that translation can save lives in Africa, and that the time to address this need is now.”

Africa is home to nearly 1 billion people, or roughly 10% of the world’s population. The African continent also boasts 2,000 languages spread across six major language families. Some of them – such as Amharic, Berber, Hausa, Igbo, Oromo, Swahili, and Yoruba – are used by tens of millions of people. At least 242 African languages are used in the mass media, a minimum of 63 are used in judicial systems and no fewer than 56 are used in public administration.

Key datapoints from “The Need for Translation in Africa” include:

  • 97.14% of respondents said greater access to translated information would help individuals in Africa understand their legal rights.
  • 95.85% of respondents said greater access to translated information would help protect human rights in Africa.
  • 94.92% of respondents said greater access to translated information would have a positive impact on the collective health of people in Africa.
  • 94.87% of respondents said greater access to translated information would help Africans in times of emergency or natural disasters.
  • 91.96% of respondents said greater access to translated information would help people in Africa contribute to the political process.
  • 88.78% of respondents said greater access to translated information would help prevent international, civil, ethnic, or communal conflict in Africa.
  • 63.07% of respondents said greater access to translated information could have prevented the loss of life of Africans in their family or circle of friends.

The report is available at: http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Portals/0/downloads/Africa.pdf. ”

 

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Top 10 Common CV Mistakes

I think the interview is the vital part to get a job; however, if you do not have a proper CV, you may not have the chance to be interviewed at all 🙂 Recently, I have discovered a very funny infographic explaining the most common CV mistakes in a hilarious way! The creator of this colorful infographic is careerjourney.co.uk. They highlight very important points that all of us should pay attention as translators/interpreters because CVs are the basic images of you and your work experiences. Here is how we can avoid little mistakes that may affect our future career:

1-      Spelling Mistakes: Everybody is under the risk of making spelling mistakes- even if you use a language well.

2-      Typos: Let’s blame it on the keyboard and double check what we write!

3-      Lack of Specifics: Do not generalize what your job is- go into details as much as possible!

4-      Leaving out Important Information: You should provide every communication channel you have!

5-      Visually Too Cluttered: There are hundreds of good CV examples on internet. Keep it simple and tidy!

6-      Incorrect Contact Information: This may explain why no employers call you back!

7-      Layout, Design and Content Mistake: Getting a job is a serious milestone of your life, so your CV should be more or less formal!

8-      Lies: Do not lie because if you get the job, your employer may be dissappointed with you!

9-      Irrelevant Info: Nobody is interested in your phobias or irrelevant abilities!

10-   Mentioning Why You Have Left Your Current Job: It may create some misunderstandings. Just leave it in the past!

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Etymology Always Amazes!

I took two courses about etymology; however, the teaching style of my professor was not one of the best 🙂 He added thousands of words to his course book together with all the Latin and Greek affixes… As a second year university student, around the age of 19-20, it did not make much sense to me- I just memorized them for the exams. After years of learning other German and Latin languages, I understood it was one of the most important courses for a language student! When you know certain roots and affixes in Latin and Greek, you can easily guess the meaning of many words. When you know the history of a word, it is a piece of cake to recall it. If you are interested in languages and if you want to learn a language fast, you should really study etymology first. 

I forgot 80% of the words that I learned but I want to share a couple of interesting words and their histories with you:

Assassin

n. Murderer, generally somewhat professional; esp. one who murders a prominent figure.

During the time of the Crusades the members of a certain secret Muslim sect engaged people to terrorise their Christian enemies by performing murders as a religious duty. These acts were carried out under the influence of hashish, and so the killers became known as hashshashin, meaning eaters or smokers of hashish.Hashshashin evolved into the word assassin.

Avocado (Avocado Pear)

n. Pear-shaped fruit with dark green, leathery skin, a large stony seed, and greenish-yellow edible pulp. Also the topical American tree on which this fruit grows.

Originally the Aztecs called this fruit ahucatl after their word for testicle. This is may be partly due to the fruit’s resemblance to a testicle, but also because it was supposedly believed to be an aphrodisiac. To the Spaniards ahucatl sounded like avocado (=advocate, Spanish), and so the fruit came to Europe, via Spain, under that name.Avocado pears are also sometimes called Alligator pears. The etymology of this is far more obvious; the skin of these fruits is dark green, thick, leathery, and knobbly, rather like that of an alligator.

Hazard

n. Danger; vb. To risk or expose to danger.

This term evolved from the Arabic al zahr, which means the dice. In Western Europe the term came to be associated with a number of games using dice, which were learned during the Crusades whilst in the Holy Land. The term eventually took on the connotation of danger because, from very early on, games using dice were associated with the risky business of gambling and con artists using corrupted dice.

Malaria

n. Infectious disease characterised by chills and fever and caused by the bite of an infected anopheles mosquito.

This word comes from the mediaeval Italian mal (=bad) and aria (=air), describing the miasma from the swamps around Rome. This ‘bad air‘ was believed to be the cause of the fever that often developed in those who spent time around the swamps. In fact the illness, now known as malaria, was due to certain protozoans present in the mosquitos that bred around these swamps, and which caused recurring feverish symptoms in those they bit.

Pedigree

n. A line of ancestors; descent; lineage; genealogy; a register or record of a line of ancestors.

Believed to be derived from the French ped de gru, which meant crane’s foot (the modern French equivalent is pied de la grue). The crane’s foot is said to resemble the/|\ symbol on genealogical trees. It has also been suggested that it comes from par degrés, the French for by degrees. A pedigree chart records the relationship of families by degrees.

Phony (or Phoney)

adj. Something that is not genuine; a fake or imitation.

British thieves and swindlers of old used many secret codewords. One such word was fawney, which referred to a gilt ring. They would sell these, saying that they were made of real gold. But the rings were not genuine gold, and the word phony – fromfawney – came to be used for anything that is fake or not genuine.

Quarantine

n. Any forced stoppage of travel or communication on account of malignant, contagious disease, on land or by sea.

From the French quarante (=forty). Adding the suffix –aine to French numbers gives a degree of roughness to the figure (like –ish in English), so quarantaine means about forty. Originally when a ship arriving in port was suspected of being infected with a malignant, contagious disease, its cargo and crew were obliged to forego all contact with the shore for a period of around forty days. This term came to be known as period of quarantine.

Thanks http://www.fun-with-words.com for this compilation.

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