Sunday, November 17, 2013

Unpaired words; Bad numeracy; Age of Consent; Value; The Spanish legal system; and the 1950s again.

Spanish contains the words transigente (accommodating, tolerant) and intransigente (the opposite). English, as is its custom, stole the second of these words but, surprisingly, not the first. So 'intransigent' joined that exclusive club of English words for which there is no antonym. Or at least not these days. Others are 'uncouth' and 'unkempt'. Needless to say, Wikipedia has a page on such 'Unpaired Words'. It doesn't, though, cite 'intransigent'.

Interestingly, even numerate individuals are bad at drawing the right conclusions from statistics which don't support their political beliefs. This is often seen in the context of drug and gun laws and is called 'motivated numeracy'. So, watch out for it, if you are numerate. If you're not, don't bother. You're going to misinterpret the data anyway.

Spain recently raised the age of consent from 13 to 16. The British government is contemplating reducing it from 16 to 15. This presumably tells us something about the respective societies but I haven't the faintest idea what.

Talking of cultures, I learnt from a podcast on the French economy yesterday that there's no phrase equivalent to 'value for money' in the language which gave us laissez-faire and entrepreneur. And Spanish? Well, one dictionary gives Tener buena relación calidad-precio which does the business, I guess, albeit less succinctly. Which is usually the way in Spanish, of course.

With each passing day, I feel I understand the Spanish legal system less and less. Yesterday I read that 40-odd Valencian politicians have petitioned for the pardon of some jailed ex-mayor even though the majority of said politicos have themselves been indicted for some form of corruption or other. And they all look so straight and innocent sitting there in their hemisphere. But, then, so did Dr Shipman in his surgery.

Finally . . . The final bits from David Kynaston's Family Britain, which majors on the UK of the 1950s.

There was no disposition on the part of the British Medical Association not to regard homosexuality as a problem requiring treatment. That treatment could take several forms, but subsequently released Home Office papers showed the quite widespread use of electric-shock treatment and oestrogen (a female sex hormone) in order to try to turn homosexual prisoners into heteros.

Birds Eye Fish Fingers, introduced only 2 weeks before the start of commercial TV, were reputedly saved by a last minute name change from being called 'Cod Pieces'.

Dab-it-off, Windolene, Dura-Glit, Brasso, Brillo, Rinso, Lifebuoy, Silvikrin, Amm-i-Dent, Delrosa Rose Hip syrup, Mr Therm, Put-U-Up, Toni perms, hairnets, headscarves, Jaeger, Ladybird T-shirts, rompers, knicker elastic, cycle clips, brogues, Clarks sandals, Start-rite, Moss Bross, tweed jackets, crests on blazers, ties as ID, saluting AA patrolmen, driving gloves, Austin Cambridge, Morris Oxford, Sunbeam Talbot, starting handles, indicator wings, Triumph, Norton, sidecars, Raleigh, Sturmey-Archer, trolley buses, Green Line, I-Spy, Hornby Dublo, Triang, Dinky Toys, Meccano, Scalextric, Subbuteo, Sarah Jane dolls, plasticine, Magic Robot, jumping jacks, cap guns, Capstans, Players Navy Cut, Senior Service, Passing Clouds, cigarette boxes, Dagenham Girls Pipers, saturday morning cinema, Uncle Mac, Nellie the Elephant, the Laughing Policeman, fountain pens, Quink, napkin rings, butter knives, vol-au-vents, Brown Windsor soup, sponge cakes, Welgar shredded wheat, Garibaldis (squashed flies), Carnation, Edam, eat up your greens, Sun-Pat, Marmite sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, semolina, shape, sucking oranges through sugar cubes, Tizer, Quosh, Kia-Ora Suncrush, Dandelion and Burdock, Tom Thumb drops, Sherbet Fountains, Spangles, Trebor chews, barley twists, blackjacks, fruit salads, pineapple chunks, Big Chief Dream Pipe, flying saucers, Traffic Light lollipops, gobstoppers.

Postscript: Friends and I have extended this list of 50s icons. Please feel free to make your own citations. I'll post a complete list in a week or two.


Anonymous said...

For a product 'Tide' we now use Ariel or Persil. In the late fifties Mum sent my sister age 3 to the local shop for a packet of Tide. She came back with a packet of dried peas. Mum eventually worked out that her childish 'packet of Tide please'
had been interpreted as 'dried peas!'
Of course that is another change - no child under 11 would run such errands now.

sp said...


Perry said...

We English will (or should) understand that "inflammable" is derived from "in flames" & means the item burns. The term is 200 years older than "flammable", which is sometimes used, because the negative prefix "in" leads some to think it means non-combustible.

Tonsilitis is inflammation of the tonsils, thus "mis amígdalas están inflamadas".

Also, gruntled should mean happy.

James Atkinson said...

I read Glasgow's council has proposed that the statue of Wellington there be raised, this to avoid the regular icon perched on his head every weekend. Does that make him "Iconeic"

James Atkinson said...

Icons holy pictures revered and prayed to by the eastern orthodox religions were always popular, since anything you can do icon does better. Sorry

Sierra said...

Isn't there an ongoing debate on the icon status of "Uncle Mac" at the BBC?

Colin Davies said...

Oops. But I guess the inquiry hadn't started at the time Kynaston drew up the list.

Eugenia said...

Can I add 'Intrepid'.

I like to say I was feeling somewhat trepid about doing x or y; people generally look blank.


Search This Blog