The Continuing Insult To The English Language

GNC

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First the worst
Second the best
Third the hairy princess
Fourth the squashed tomato
Fifth the golden eagle.

That's what I was taught at school. Well, I say "taught", I picked it up, anyway.
 

EnolaGaia

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First the worst
Second the best ...
I can't even begin to imagine the origin of the above, GNC.
It's a widely known UK children's playground rhyme / chant. Some versions start with 'Zero is the hero'.

There's an entire section on its variations and possible history in this 2010 book:

The Lore of the Playground: One Hundred Years of Children's Games, Rhymes & Traditions
by Steve Roud

... accessible at Google Books:

https://books.google.com/books?id=H...=onepage&q="Third the hairy princess"&f=false
 

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First the worst
Second the best
Third the hairy princess
Fourth the squashed tomato
Fifth the golden eagle.

That's what I was taught at school. Well, I say "taught", I picked it up, anyway.
I grew up with 'the hairy chest' version, but try as I might I cannot manage to go further without lapsing into the magpie chant (at the wrong point):

First's the worst,
Second's the best,
Third's the one with the hairy chest.
Four for silver,
Five for gold,
Six for a secret that cannot be told.


Not quite working...
 

Yithian

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I was about 13 and in an informal end-of-term English lesson, the relief Teacher mentioned her female friend had recently done a PhD in English (I thought they were only in science disciplines). The first question asked in the Oral viva apparently required her friend give an answer in list form. "Firstly I would say .."
Immediately the Examiner slammed her down on the very first sentence 'there is no such word in the English language as Firstly, it is First, secondly, thirdly ..' I don't know if that's still true but the word Firstly still jars with me. I give a silent nod to Journalists who use First in their reports and a silent wince to Newscasters and TV presenters (like Paxo on University Challenge) who say Firstly. Snobbery ?
I'll take 'firstly' over 'second of all'.

If we're going to stick that on the end of every ordinal (instead of just first and last), it really is utterly redundant.
 

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I think if one is going to say 'First, Secondly, Thirdly' then surely it should be 'Firstly' rather than 'First', so that they all 'match', as it were?


Mind you, if I have several points to make I have been known to say ''first of all... second of all... third of all' and the last one of those might not strictly be correct, so take what I said above with a pinch of salt.
 

Yithian

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I think the point is that 'First of all' suggests: 'first and foremost' or 'the first that comes to mind of several' and 'Last of all' signals that you're closing your list.

No other seems to have any purpose.
 

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Does anybody under 50 have a 'telephone voice'?
I am under 50 and I definitely have a telephone voice. I used to be a civil servant which might have something to do with it. I had thought it had faded but a few weeks ago my colleagues teased me about my telephone manners and apparently overly formal telephone voice, according to their 20-something year old experience. So endangered it may be but there are under 50s out there with a telephone voice.

The emails from most companies I deal with address me as if we were surfing buddies.
Yes, an irritating development that I have also noticed. Working in IT I often get recruiters who I have never spoken to in my life emailing me and casually asking "what are you up to currently?".
 

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I am under 50 and I definitely have a telephone voice. I used to be a civil servant which might have something to do with it. I had thought it had faded but a few weeks ago my colleagues teased me about my telephone manners and apparently overly formal telephone voice, according to their 20-something year old experience. So endangered it may be but there are under 50s out there with a telephone voice.
I neglected to say so, but I was thinking of a 'home telephone' voice. I'm thinking here of my grandmother and to a slightly reduced degree my mother, who could be screaming blue murder at my younger brother and me but still morph immediately into Hyacinth Bucket as she lifted the receiver.

Does yours 'carry over' as it were?
 

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It definitely used to do so. Oddly I don't think it does, or not as much perhaps, on my mobile phone. I haven't used my landline for a while, I actually don't have my telephone plugged in at the moment - redecorating - but I rarely receive calls on it. If I had to make a call to a supplier or an organisation I am a member of, for instance, I think my telephone voice would activate! As it would if I took a call from an unknown number. Not sure if it would when taking a call from friends or family. That said, I have an RP accent anyway so the difference would not be that great.
 

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It definitely used to do so. Oddly I don't think it does, or not as much perhaps, on my mobile phone. I haven't used my landline for a while, I actually don't have my telephone plugged in at the moment - redecorating - but I rarely receive calls on it. If I had to make a call to a supplier or an organisation I am a member of, for instance, I think my telephone voice would activate! As it would if I took a call from an unknown number. Not sure if it would when taking a call from friends or family. That said, I have an RP accent anyway so the difference would not be that great.
RP?

I thought you were from the south-west! ;)

 

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One thing I find odd in emails is the tendency for some people to start the email with just a name, e.g.:

Zebs,

Blah blah blah...


I end up reading it as quite unfriendly / blunt / impolite. I always begin an email with 'Hi <name>', 'Hello <name>' or even 'Dear <name>' - never just bluntly the name itself.

Is it just me or does/would anyone else feel the same?
 

Gloucestrian

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Gloucester isn't strictly South West, it's sort of South Midlands meets the West Country. It was in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. That said, it is definitely the West of England. My family are from all over the place, including some from the local region (Forest of Dean) and when traces of accent reveal themselves it is usually Welsh or Scottish traces that people notice. I also speak Welsh, with a north-Walian accent for the most part.

I do drink cider though!

One thing I find odd in emails is the tendency for some people to start the email with just a name[.]

I end up reading it as quite unfriendly / blunt / impolite. I always begin an email with 'Hi <name>', 'Hello <name>' or even 'Dear <name>' - never just bluntly the name itself.

Is it just me or does/would anyone else feel the same?
Definitely. I find it impolite, a lack of regard essentially. If I intentionally wish to express a straight-to-the-point tone in an email I will drop the "Hello", so I think the way you read it is possibly sometimes the way it was meant.
 
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Yithian

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Gloucester isn't strictly South West, it's sort of South Midlands meets the West Country. It was in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. That said, it is definitely the West of England. My family are from all over the place, including some from the local region (Forest of Dean) and when traces of accent reveal themselves it is usually Welsh or Scottish traces that people notice. I also speak Welsh, with a north-Walian accent for the most part.

I do drink cider though!
Apologies, my UK geography is actually terrible--which is odd as my world geography is top shelf!

When you say that you 'speak Welsh' is that 'notionally' or do you get regular opportunities to bust it out?

My Irish friend can break out in pretty fluent Gaelic (I think her mother used to teach it) and it sounds fantastic.
 

Gloucestrian

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Not regularly but I have spoken it in the workplace - a friend and colleague is Welsh, and also speaks. Different departments so it is not a regular conversation but pleasant to use it. I holiday in Wales so occasionally have other opportunities to speak Welsh, and I used it when I visited family in South Wales. Also my partner and I use it if we wish to speak privately, sometimes, though her Welsh is less than mine and I would not claim fluency.
 

Gloucestrian

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Apologies for the derailment into Welsh, especially on this august thread devoted to the English language!
 

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It's probably been said already, but people who say 'like' every tenth word. Mainly young people it has to be said, although I have nothing against young people. Like.
I do that, and I have no idea why. If it's any consolation, it jars with me too - when I notice it.
 

Ogdred Weary

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Saying "like" to mean some thing else for example "I was like" for "I said" or to mean "I did" or just redundantly as effective punctuation has been around so long that it's not just the "young" who do it.
 

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"and I turned around and said 'xxxxxxx', then she turned around and said 'xxxxxx'".

Doesn't annoy me but I do get a mental image of the person turning 360 degrees before each utterance.
"and I turned around and said 'xxxxxxx', then she turned around and said 'xxxxxx'".

Doesn't annoy me but I do get a mental image of the person turning 360 degrees before each utterance.
That's what they do at the Rotary Club.
 

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"and I turned around and said 'xxxxxxx', then she turned around and said 'xxxxxx'".

Doesn't annoy me but I do get a mental image of the person turning 360 degrees before each utterance.
That reminds me of a particularly odious person I knew who said that a LOT.
I even had a laugh, poking fun at her habit - pointing out that all that 'turning around' can induce dizziness. :D
 

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A former colleague would always finish every sentence with "do you know what I mean?"

My reply was invariably "I always know what you mean" as it was rarely complicated. Not that it stopped him.

I once worked for a chap who finished every conversation with "Ah; from there". Sort of a vocal reflex action. Nice bloke though.
 

hunck

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I do that, and I have no idea why. If it's any consolation, it jars with me too - when I notice it.
Well stop it. Immediately.

Saying "like" to mean some thing else for example "I was like" for "I said" or to mean "I did" or just redundantly as effective punctuation has been around so long that it's not just the "young" who do it.
It may have been around a long time but it's going through a strong renaissance at the mo.

Imagine if you were, like, writing, & inserted it, like, all the bloody time, It would get, like, quite annoying to read, like quite quickly. It's like a verbal tic.
 
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