Category Archives: English language

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Shakespeare´s insults

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit is a personal favourite.

Perhaps I should invest some time in learning a few intelligent insults. Only problem is the people they´d be directed at probably wouldn’t´t understand them. So sad.

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Broken dreams

I am sure that Jane Austen fans have imagined their own version of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, mine didn´t look like the actors Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen but he most certainly was tall, dark and handsome, broad chest and defined strong arms…. you get the picture.

Then comes along Professor John Sutherland from University College London and Professor Amanda Vickery from Queen Mary University of London and for a whole month they take on a study to gain a historically accurate idea of what Darcy would have looked like.

I wish they hadn’t.

The study revealed that the revered Darcy would have had powdered white hair, a pointy chin, a pale complexion, a long nose and sloping shoulders. Not quite the brooding, chiselled chap portrayed on-screen by modern-day actors. 

His hair, according to the research, would have been mid-length and powdered white, reflective of the norms of the Austen era. His face would have been long and oval-shaped with a small mouth — common features among gentlemen of the era. His skin would have been pink and white; a sign of wealth and privilege.   

His build would have been slender, with a “modest chest”, but with “large quads, thighs and calves”. According to the research, strong legs were an attractive and important feature to females of the time, with “well-modelled thighs a sign of virility, a good fencer and horseman”. 

Unlike Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen — who are both over 6ft tall — the real Darcy would have only been 5ft 11 inches.

Either way, here is what he would have looked like, the powdered hair is enough to cringe and sloping shoulders? Nope. I will stick to my imagined version of Mr. Darcy this is fiction after all and isn´t that the purpose of reading? That we lose ourselves in somebody´s else´s world with a touch of our own?

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Language tips if you visit South Africa

 

Ag (ah-ch): An expression of irritation or resignation. “Ag no man!” “Ag, these things happen”

Awê (ah-weh): A greeting. “Awê, brother!”

Babbelas (bah-bah-luss): Derived from the isiZulu word, ‘i-babalazi’, meaning drunk; adopted into the Afrikaans language as a term for ‘hangover’. “I have a serious babbelas!”

Bakkie (bah-kee): 1. A bowl. “Put those leftovers in a bakkie.” 2. A pick-up truck.  “We all jumped on the back of my dad’s bakkie and went to the beach.”

Befok (buh-fawk): 1. Really good, amazing, cool.

2. Crazy, mad, insane. “You tried to put your cat in the braai? Are you befok?”

Bergie (bear-ghee): Derived from berg, Afrikaans for ‘mountain’. Originally used to refer to vagrants living in the forests of Table Mountain, the word is now a mainstream term used to describe vagrants in Cape Town.

Bra (brah), bru (brew): Derived from broer, Afrikaans for ‘brother’; a term of affection for male friends; equivalent to dude. “Howzit my bru!”“Jislaaik bra, it’s been ages since I last saw you!”

Braai (br-eye): Barbeque (noun and verb). “Let’s throw a tjop on the braai.” “We’re going to braai at a friend’s house.”

Duidelik (day-duh-lik): Cool, awesome, amazing. “That bra’s car looks duidelik!”

Eish (ay-sh): isiZulu interjection; an exclamation meaning ‘oh my’, ‘wow’, ‘oh dear’, ‘good heavens’. A: “Did you hear? My brother got into a fight with a bergie!” B: “Eish! Is he hurt!”

Ek sê, Eksê (Eh-k-s-eh): Afrikaans for, ‘I say’. Used either at the beginning or end of a statement. “Ek sê my bru, let’s braai tomorrow.” “This party is duidelik, ek sê!”

Eina (Ay-nah): An exclamation used when pain is experienced, ‘ouch!’. “Eina! Don’t pinch me.”

Entjie (eh-n-chee): A cigarette. “Come smoke an entjie with me.”

Guardjie, gaatjie (gah-chee): The guard who calls for passengers and takes in the money on a minibus taxi.

hhayi-bo (isiZulu), hayibo (isiXhosa) (haai-boh): An interjection meaning ‘hey’; ‘no way’.“Hayibo wena, you can’t park there!”

Howzit (how-zit): A greeting meaning ‘hi’; shortened form of ‘how’s it going?’

Is it?: Used as acknowledgement of a statement, but not to ask a question – as one might assume. Most closely related to the English word ‘really’. A: “This guy mugged me and said I must take off my takkies!” B: “Is it?”

Ja (yaah): Afrikaans for ‘yes’. A: “Do you want to go to a dance club tonight?” B: “Ja, why not?”

Ja-nee (yah-near): Afrikaans for yes-no. Meaning ‘Sure!’ or ‘That’s a fact!’ Usually used in agreement with a statement. A: “These petrol price hikes are going to be the death of me.” B: “Ja-nee, I think I need to invest in a bicycle.”

Jol (jaw-l): (noun and verb) 1. A party or dance club. “We’re going to the jol.” “That party was an absolute jol!” 2. Used to describe the act of cheating. “I heard he was jolling with another girl.”

Jislaaik (yiss-like): An expression of astonishment. “Jislaaik, did you see that car go?”

Kak (kuh-k): 1. Afrikaans for ‘shit’.  Rubbish, nonsense, inferior, crap or useless. “What a kak phone.” “Your driving is kak.”  2. Extremely, very. “That girl is kak hot!”

Kwaai (kw-eye): Derived from the Afrikaans word for ‘angry’, ‘vicious’, ‘bad-tempered’.  Cool, awesome, great. “Those shoes are kwaai.”

Lekker (leh-kah): 1. Nice, delicious. “Local is lekker!” 2. Extremely, very. “South Africans are lekker sexy!”

Mielie (mee-lee): Afrikaans term for corn, corn-on-the-cob.

Nee (nee-ah): Afrikaans for ‘no’.

Naartjie (naah-chee): Afrikaans term for citrus unshiu, a seedless, easy peeling species of citrus also known as a ‘satsuma mandarin’.

Potjie, potjiekos (poi-kee-kaws): Afrikaans term for pot food/stew comprised of meat, chicken, vegetables or seafood slow-cooked over low coals in a three-legged cast iron pot.

Shame: A term of endearment and sympathy (not condescending). “Ag shame, sorry to hear about your cat.” “Oh shame! Look how cute your baby is!”

Shisa Nyama (shee-seen-yah-mah): isiZulu origin – while shisa means ‘burn’ or to be hot andnyama means ‘meat’, used together the term means ‘braai’ or ‘barbeque’. “Come on, let’s go to Mzoli’s for a lekker shisa nyama!”

Sisi (see-see): Derived from both isiXhosa and isiZulu words for sister, usisi and osisi (plural).“Hayibo sisi, you must stop smoking so many entjies!”

Sosatie (soo-saah-tees): Kebabs, skewered meat. “Let’s throw a few sosaties on the braai.”

Takkies (tack-kees): Trainers, sneakers, running shoes. “I want to start running, again but I need a new pair of takkies.”

Tjommie, chommie (choh-mee): Afrikaans slang for ‘friend’. “Hey tjommie, when are we going to the beach again?”

Vrot (frawt): Rotten; most often used to describe food that’s gone off or a state of being sick.“Those tomatoes are vrot.” “Champagne makes me feel vrot!”

Voetsek (foot-sek): Afrikaans for ‘get lost’, much like the British expression, ‘bog off’. “Hey voetsek man!”

Wena (weh-nah): isiXhosa and isiZulu for ‘you’. “Hey wena, where’s the R20 you owe me?”

Wys (vay-ss): Show, tell, describe. “Don’t wys me, I know where I’m going.”

An app to help improve your writing style

This Web App Identifies Unnecessary Words In Your Writing

Expresso is a little tool to edit texts and improve your writing style. It will teach you to express yourself through writing more efficiently and help make your texts more readable, precise, and engaging.

I often complain that authors don´t pay enough attention to spelling and grammar and publish books without proper editing. Although I understand that editing can be expensive and not all authors can afford it, it does not change the fact that a book needs proofreading and some editing before publishing. For those that can´t afford a professional editor this might be a useful tool worth trying.