Words on another Wednesday


It always makes me smile when I hear comebacks to popular quotes. I smile because it makes me think how rich words are. I love words; how they make me feel, how context changes what they convey. Fascinates me. I am always impressed by people who can coin a phrase. A person with a skill for arresting turns of phrase will always have my ear. The power to encourage or destroy in a sentence is mighty. The more I live, the more I understand Edward Buller-Lytton’s quote “The pen is mightier than the sword”. 

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. The grass is greener where you water it. Put in the effort! Work at whatever it is to make the grass on your side of the fence the greenest, lushest grass EVER.

Curiosity killed the cat. Satisfaction brought him back. So tell me the juicy gossip, Mum. 

See you later, Alligator. In a while, Crocodile. How now, Brown Cow. Is the How now, Brown Cow really a saying or did my Big Blisters make it up?

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged. I, personally, never tried this one at home. The first verse is more popularly quoted and known than the second verse. All I want to mention at this stage is that there should always be age-appropriate discussions and learning opportunities for children. Free, open and frank discussions. Children do not learn by osmosis. 

Out of date quotes.

A stitch in time saves nine. Gone are the days when people used to darn their socks and sew buttonholes. Darn! 

Make hay while the sun shines.

Still relevant but the imagery is lost. 

Then there are out of date quotes which are still in use

Burning the midnight oil.

Burning the candle at both ends.

Put your best foot forward.

Straight from the horse’s mouth.

At the drop of a hat.

Bite the bullet.

The back story behind these phrases is fascinating. The way the phrases are used in everyday life is interesting.

When teaching Mathematics, I like to offer students different ways to solve problems. There are different paths to a solution, we use our brains and access information in different ways. As long as it is efficient and no crimes against Maths are committed, it’s all good. I stopped saying just like there is more than one way to skin a cat there is more than one way to arrive at a solution. Why did I stop? The gasps of indignation. You would not believe. You would have thought I was bringing cats in every week and skinning them in the classroom. 

Small annoying Words

My train journey to Belgrave was marred by a conversation between 2 persons of indeterminate age. If I went by their attire, I would say twenties. By their conversation, I would say teens. Every other word was…

LIKE Like has stood the test of time. It has easily been a decade that it has been used as a pause, conjunction, thought grabbing process, anxiety removing… The humble word that used to appear regularly in similes. The use of the word prepared you for a comparison between concepts but…

BUT Remember when the word but indicated the end of a sentence. I am not sure why it became part of the lexicon of the yute or where it went but I am glad it returned to whence it came. Whence, Whilst, Shall… beautiful words that are sadly in decline and may soon become obsolete. 

LOL It seems this has gone the way of But. It was a thing to say LOL and smile. LOL means Laugh(ing) Out Loud so do it don’t say it. I remember when LOL used to mean Lots of Love. Can’t write LOL in a condolence book can you now?!

It’s all good, It’s all G! Urggggggh! I used to think. I do use it now. Meh, what can you do? I decided to Jump on the Bandwagon. 

Who remembers SWALK? I am embarrassed to ask about FLEM? Dem days! Dem days! 

Swear words

In Oz, the word Bloody is an adjective. Growing up Naija and in Blighty, Bloody was an expression of anger and definitely a swear word. In Australia, Bloody Oath means I shit you not (in some countries) but basically means I am telling you the truth. Bloody brilliant is epic on the brilliant scale. Can’t out do Bloody brilliant! when it’s said enthusiastically with a huge grin.

Overly misused words like totally misused

Like, Totally, Surreal, Epic, Awesome, Love, LOL, abbreviations

Oh abbreviations! Abbreviations are supposed to help not hinder communication. I often refer to the Urban dictionary these days when I am reading something on Gram (wink!). There are new ones every minute it seems. TBT, MCW, ICYMI, TQ, NNTR, TTYL… (eye roll)

When did Emoji become a form of communication Instead of wink and eye roll, the proper etiquette would have been emoji or is the correct word emoticons? Emoji or Emoticons to me tomahto, tomayto. Your response – 😱

English is not English

When I first moved to Oz. I was arranging to meet friends at half six. They asked why I didn’t just say 3 O’clock. 

I was going out in the avo didn’t translate well either. Avo in London is afternoon. In Melbourne it is an avocado. 

DGMW, I love words, languages. I love the evolution. I enjoy finding out about the etymology. I am all for language changing and adapting to our needs. At the heart of language is communication. As an adult, I do now agree with the parentals that there are however, rules to follow. There were arguments with my Dad about my written English and now I wish I had paid more attention. There were disagreements with Mum about my grammar. The Eldest Sister is very hot about all of that. My emails are often corrected. I am now so confused about “…Chizara and I…” or “…Justin and me…”. The point is about the shenanigans my friend and myself I or me we got up to. 

(I couldn’t resist DGMW is Don’t get me wrong)

Always fascinating to hear the same word used in different countries but mean the same thing. There may be variations in spelling. Did we all speak one language millennia ago and then it changed at The Tower of Babel? 

I have lived in different countries and it does feel like (I think like is appropriately used in this context) 

I have lived in different countries and now feel that I speak different Englishes. Nigerian English, English, South London English, Jamaican English, Australian English.

My first teaching experience in Oz, a student wanted to borrow a ‘grey led’. Turns out she wanted to borrow a pencil. In the same class, I was asked for loose leaf. They must have thought I was an idjit when I had no idea what they were on about. Imagine my horror, as a newly arrived import, when my estate agent looked in my wardrobe and remarked that I have lots of thongs. Oh! the joys of those first few months in Oz. It is true that everything is abbreviated and that a sentence will often be condensed into one word or at best 2 syllables. 

It must be noted that Nigerian English is NOT Pidgin but Australian English is Strayan. 

Spoken v Written English is something else. I have noticed a decline in my spellings with the advent of the dreaded red dots. Predictive text. Keyboard typing. Sigh!                 IMHO (wink!) there should still be spelling tests in schools and there should still be an emphasis on kidlets writing by hand. Hand writing, Hand written letter to thank people who have sent them birthday or Christmas gifts. Written by hand. Pen, pencil, biro, crayon. 

It is time for me to halt my musings for this week.

I leave you to ponder this… Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!

Ka ahụ ma emechaa!





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