Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Line Between Bleisure And Pain

Sometimes, a new word is so bad, it really shouldn’t be given a new life. But people will still resurrect it, hoping that this time, it will stick.

Bleisure is one such word. An ugly combination of business and leisure, it describes a type of travelling which combines, well, business and leisure. And so the Accor group has announced a revamping of its Pullman brand, with an emphasis on Bleisure travellers, giving a more luxurious experience to those travelling on business.

It seems that people have been trying to get this term to take off for at least three years, and the fact that it is still being presented as a new word in this latest release confirms that it has simply not gained any traction at all. Hotel chains were pushing it in advertorials in 2010, and others were trying to get in on the act the same year.

However, when Bleisure was submitted to Collins dictionary last year as a possible word for inclusion, it was rejected on the grounds that there was very limited evidence of it actually being used.

So while you clearly can’t keep any idea down forever in the world of marketing, the history of Bleisure travel so far suggests that it may not have much of a future, and hopefully this is a word that will disappear into the linguistic oblivion it deserves.

The French Learn How To Kiss

The French are famously protective of their language and are constantly monitoring it to ensure that Englishisms are not creeping in. Nevertheless, the language evolves like any other, and so dictionary makers in France follow their global counterparts by regularly adding new words to their volumes.

One new addition to the Petit Robert dictionary has caused quite a stir. Because it turns out, the dictionary had no word for French Kiss. Now this has been amended, and ‘Galocher’, to kiss with tongues, has been given its own entry.

The French have been quick to defend their sexual reputation, pointing out that the novelty of the word does not mean that the practice is new. Laurence Laporte of the Robert Publishing house said: “The French have always had many expressions to describe it, such as ‘kissing at length in the mouth’, but it’s true, we’ve never had one single word.”

The term French Kiss is believed to have originated at the start of the 20th century as knowledge of amorous French practices increased. It has been amusing to see that this image of the French is being stoutly defended now, despite the obvious amusement people are finding in French Kiss only now entering the dictionary.

As Ms Laporte said,  the lack of a specific term “never stopped us doing it”.

Happy To Be Sharenting

When my son was born last November, I was very conscious that he had arrived into an era very different to that of his elder sister, even though they are only a few years apart. That difference was social media.

So while I could announce my daughter’s birth in 2005 by email, and host some photos on specialised websites, that was the extent of her early digital footprint. Fast forward to 2012 and I kept on thinking about the fact that I was now having a Facebook baby, with scan pictures just the start of the tumult I subsequently unleashed.

Given that I had commented many times on this difference, I should probably have recognised with my Wordability hat on that this new concept would inevitably require a new word. But now that it has come along, I find that I don’t like the term Sharenting at all.

It’s a clever coinage, and actually encapsulates the meaning well – parenting and sharing at the same time. But I can’t help feeling there is something pejorative about it, something slightly sneery. People like to criticise others for the way that they parent, and you could easily imagine somebody gossipping about those who are sharenting as if it is some kind of fault.

I’m also not convinced anybody will really use it conversation. It is a great word for journalists and the media to use to discuss the phenomenon, but as for the rest of us, I suspect we will just note that people are sharing information about their offspring on social media in much the same way they used to share information, albeit not as quickly and not with as wide a circle. People have always shown off pictures, boasted about achievements and nattered to anyone who will listen about how their children are doing. Social networks simply allow people to do what they have always done, just on a quicker and larger scale.

Sharenting as a concept is going nowhere, and I suspect the word is here to stay. It’s just I don’t think you will hear many people saying it.

Say Goodbye to Fergie Time

As the football world bids farewell to Sir Alex Ferguson this weekend, it is worth nothing that it is not only his contribution to football that should be celebrated.

When he first shipped up at Old Trafford in 1986, nobody could have predicted that he would last until 2013. Equally, nobody would have believed you if you had said we would laud his contribution to the English Language on his departure.

But Sir Alex’s contribution to neologisms is legend. Perhaps his most famous phrase is ‘Squeaky Bum Time’, a phrase that refers to the sharp end of the football season and the nerves that emerge as the tension increases. It dates back 10 years and was given official recognition in 2005, while it is now a standard part of the lexicon for all fans when discussing any matter to do with the season’s conclusion.

The other time connection to the outgoing boss is Fergie Time, a rather pointed term not coined by the great man. This refers to the perception that Manchester United get more time added on at the end of games when they are losing than other teams, and that they often make use of this temporal largesse. Analysis has suggested that there is no basis in fact for this asssertion, but all football fans enjoy a good moan about bias being shown to rival teams, so the phrase will remain, even though Fergie himself has gone.

But you would never berate Sir Alex over these issues. After all, he is legendary in the football world for dishing out the hairdryer treatment, a particularly loud mode of berating players for not performing at their best.

So as Sir Alex disappears into the sunset, remember that it is not only the football world he has changed. He has also had a demonstrable effect on the language that we speak.

Let’s Go Showrooming

I am not a fan of going shopping. For me, it is functional, get in there, get what you need, and get out again. A browse round a bookshop is fun, of course, but that’s about it.

The rise of online shopping has changed all of that. On the one hand, you don’t need to go shopping, you can just do it on the computer. On the other, you can go shopping any hour of day or night, you are no longer spared just because the doors have been locked.

Now I’m sure we have all been guilty of going into shops, checking out a price, whipping out our phone to compare it to online competitors and then leaving to make that purchase from our living room. Maybe what we didn’t know was that we were ‘showrooming’.

Showrooming is defined as doing precisely what I have described, examining goods in a physical shop and then buying them cheaper online. When I say defined, of course, I don’t mean officially. Showrooming has not yet made it to the official annals of most dictionaries.

I am in a bit of a quandary about this word. I have often said that words emerge when there are new trends in need of a descriptor, and there is no doubt that this is a new activity and there is currently no adequate word in the language to encapsulate it. It is just that I can’t see anybody ever saying it. It feels like a term invented for the written media, for headline writers or analysts to use. Surely people will simply continue to say they are going shopping, even if they have no intention of actually buying anything while out. Surely people will use longer sentences if they want to go into details about what they have done, rather than using this particular word.

So while showrooming is likely to stick around for those who write about this phenomenon, I think it is unlikely to enter common speech for those who are actually doing it.