Going native

Yesterday, talking with Jen, and without a hint of irony, I referred to two young women we had seen the previous evening as lasses. I didn't even notice I had done it. It was Jen who pointed it out. She was highly amused.

Over ten years, I've lived in Yorkshire, and it's finally starting to rub off. I'll be rubbing cold lard on tut whippet next, mark my words.


Some Yorkshire folk yesterday

Some Yorkshire folk yesterday.

Can't be done

Poor young Lana Del Rey! Everything was going so well, and then David Cameron had to come along and blurt out that he is a fan. Definitely not cool.

What? You don't have a clue who I'm talking about? He's the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, for Pete's sake! Oh, right, you mean Lana Del Ray. She's an up-and-coming pop chanteuse who made a song last year called Video Games, which was a big hit. It was pretty OK, if you like that sort of thing. Here's the video. No need to watch it if you're not that way inclined.

Like I say, it's a pretty OK song. But what worries me about Video Games is the opening verse:

Swinging in the backyard
Pull up in your fast car
Whistling my name

Have you ever tried to whistle someone's name? It can't be done. Not unless the ‘person’ in question is a budgerigar, a Star Wars™ droid™, or a clanger. Go on, have a go: try to whistle the name Lana Del Ray. I guarantee it won't sound anything like the name Lana Del Ray; it will sound much more like the opening four notes of Scott Joplin's The Entertainer.

Tell you what, I'll make it easier: try just to whistle the name Lana. Go on, I can wait…

It came out sounding like the first two notes of Colonel Bogey, didn't it? It could have represented any two-syllable word, couldn't it? Richard, for example, or onion.

Like I said, you simply can't whistle someone's name. Whistles come in notes; names come in vowels and consonants. They don't map.

Why don't people think about what they're saying when they write these lyrics? Is it any bloody wonder the Prime Mister speaks in meaningless platitudes when this is the sort of nonsense he likes to listen to?


For reasons I won't bother you with, I was thinking about the syllable pib yesterday.

As syllables go, it's not all that unusual: consonant-vowel-consonant, easy to pronounce, not an actual word—but there's no reason on earth why it couldn't be.

Then I tried to think of words which begin with the syllable pib. I eventually came up with pibald.

I found pibald a totally unsatisfactory answer to my self-imposed challenge to find a word beginning pib_ for two reasons: (1) piebald is how I (and, I hope, most other people) would normally spell the word, and, more importantly, (2) the letters P, I, B are not pronounced as a single syllable: it's pi-bald. Like I said, totally unsatisfactory.

So I racked my brains for a while, trying to come up with another word which begins pib_. I failed.

So I've just looked in my Compact Oxford English Dictionary (the full-hit dictionary printed so small that it comes with a magnifying glass to help you read it), and here are the pib_ words listed in it:

  • pibald
    already got that one!
  • pibil/pibble/pible
    an obsolete spelling of pebble
  • pibble-pabble
    an alteration of bibble-babble (obviously)
  • pibcorn
    an obsolete word for a form of hornpipe formerly used in Wales
  • pibling
    some famous writer's misspelling of pipling (the dolt!)
  • piblokto
    a form of hysterical illness in Eskimo dogs (no, really!)
  • pibroach/pibrach
    variations on a particular musical theme for bagpipes in the Scotch (sic) Highlands

So now I know.

I wonder why so few words begin with pib_.

(Don't get me started on beb_.)