Posts tagged ‘Karen Jeynes’

November 29th, 2012

Ten of the Best

by Karen Jeynes

Show don’t tell, they always told me, so I thought it might be good to show you ten of my favourite acceptance speeches. I have to confess here that I’m a bit of an awards ceremony junkie. I take them far too seriously, and often cry. But who can resist moments like these?

November 26th, 2012

A new word order

by Karen Jeynes

It’s all very well having an impressive vocabulary, ready to whop out your big words to wow the crowds at every opportunity. But sometimes multiple syllables aren’t enough to make people happy – sometimes they’re looking for style over substance. So this week, our wordnerds are here to help. We know December is a month full of speeches, from end of year office events to weddings to family dinners to New Year’s Resolutions. So we’re bringing you a week devoted to the art of giving good speeches – we’re not going to write your speeches for you (ooh, now there’s a money spinning idea) but we are going to share some anecdotes, some famous speeches, and even some professional advice. We hope you’ll emerge ready to bring your crowd to their feet in tumults of applause.

November 11th, 2012

Fantasy Football Names

by Karen Jeynes

This article first appeared on Sportlinks.

The Internet is freaking awesome. I found a site which tells you what your name would be were you a Brazilian footballer. For today, you can call me Jeyninho da Costa. And because I’m a serious football journalist, I checked out what some of my favourite tweeps’ Brazilian football names would be: @Mvelasep would be Peppetteto, @thatmattmcd would be Mcdonino, @tomolefe would be Molefaldo. You can see the pattern emerging, but I do think we’d make a pretty damn formidable team.

This got me thinking though: what would the best real footballer’s names be? And luckily, the Internet delivered. I quickly discarded players such as Dropsy, Diver, Jelleyman, Kuntz and Deadman, for obvious reasons. There were some moments of hesitation but in the end, ladies and gentlemen, I give you MY fantasy football team:

November 9th, 2012




Another of our Twelve Thousand Words, by Karen Jeynes

I decided I’d take on the challenge of a verb for this installment of Twelve Thousand Words, because verbs are amazing too – in fact these days, all the nouns are trying to be verbs. Verbs are the new black.

November 2nd, 2012



The third of our Twelve Thousand Words, by Karen Jeynes

A legendary highly intoxicating beverage, made primarily from the flowers and leaves of artemisia absinthium, or green wormwood. The height of its popularity came in late 19th century Paris, where it was the bohemians rapturously embraced it. Conservative types were horrified by it, and by 1915 it was banned in the US and much of Europe. Perhaps some of its negative effects were due to cheapskate producers using copper to add the greenish tint. These days absinthe is freely available, and you can even buy DIY absinthe kits.

The Green Fairy, portrayed above by the diminuitive diva Kylie Minogue in Moulin Rouge, is a nickname for absinthe, because, well, because. When creatives imbibed absinthe, she would appear and guide them in the creation of  inspired work. Sort of a fluttering headache inducing multitasking mini muse.

Absinthe is also a sexy burlesque circus show in Vegas, and a software for jailbreaking phones that “relies on vulnerabilites in the Racoon daemon”. Which doesn’t sound terrifying at all.

In case you missed them – A is also for AARDVARK and ANATHEMA.

October 31st, 2012

Linguistic Tricks and Treats

by Karen Jeynes

All Hallow’s Eve – the night before All Saint’s Day – was abbreviated by the Scots to Hallowe’en, and then Halloween. In centuries gone by, as far back as the 10th Century, people didn’t go trick or treating, they went souling: requesting gifts of food in return for offering prayers for the dead. They would often be given soulcakes (or harcakes), and each one eaten would represent a soul freed from purgatory.  Frankly, I think this tradition of enforced cake eating should be reinstated immediately.

Souling seems to have become entangled along the way with the Guy Fawkes ritual of “a penny for the guy”, where children would go collecting in the weeks before November 5 for money to build their guy for burning on Bonfire Night, and for fireworks. However, children were then expected to perform or entertain before being given pennies or treats, rather than just turning up in a generic “scary” costume.  In parts of the UK people go “guising” – a reference to the disguises worn, but also a lovely homonym.

October 19th, 2012

Twelve Thousand Words

by Karen Jeynes

I think my relationship with unusual words began in Grade 1. On our first day at school we were all given folders with words on pieces of cardboard, a new kind of building block to play and construct with. But as everyone else eagerly began to make their first sentence, I stared at mine in bewilderment. For you see where “the” should have been there was another word. A word I had never seen before, a strange shape which as yet held no meaning. And so I carried the offending word to the teacher, who sweetly explained to me that the word was “because”. And although I returned to my table gratefully clutching “the”, for it is awfully hard to construct a sentence without “the” when you are five years old, I missed that “because”.

October 16th, 2012

Rallying the Tropes

by Karen Jeynes

Humans really are remarkable. We’ve put a rover on Mars, freefallen from the edge of space, allowed the Kardashians to become international celebrities, and developed an odd quirk of language I like to think of as a verbal “Pre-emptive Strike”. It’s a clause which we put at the beginning of a sentence to ostensibly apologise for what is about to come without for one second meaning it, a tactical manoeuvre in a conversational war.

The first zinger is “with respect”, which means, as you may have guessed “I don’t respect you, but I should, so I’m going to excuse my disrespectful remarks by prefacing them with this meaningless nicety.” If you don’t respect someone to such an extent that you actively dislike them, you can extend this to “with all due respect” or even “with all due respect sir/your honour”. The longer the phrase, the further the distance between the amount of respect expected and the amount actually accorded.

April 26th, 2012

Those Cursed Four Letter Words

by Karen Jeynes

Our language is increasingly washed out, banal; an insipid shadow of its previous magnificent self. I believe three words are responsible for this travesty. Yes, just three simple words. You know them. You might flinch slightly, but I’m fairly sure you’ve used them yourself recently.  I will even confess, to my shame, that I’ve used all three myself today. They have a few things in common – their 2nd and 4th letters, for one thing. Oh, and destroying your ability to communicate effectively for another. I hear you cry out, nay, it cannot be! But alas and alack, it can. Nice. Like. Fine. I am here to vanquish them from your far-too-brilliant-for-that-sort-of-thing minds. These three words  are a threat to our very humanity.

March 19th, 2012

Enough with the insults, bring on the obloquy

by Karen Jeynes

I’m not a fan of labels. As humans, we have developed a massive array of derogatory words that we use to insult people’s appearance, gender, intelligence, sexual orientation and behaviour, and race. Forget fifty words for snow, we have fifty words for implying that someone’s penis is small. We use these insults unthinkingly, and so people believe that it’s okay. Yet, the fact that these forms of expression are so ingrained in our psyches should be hugely troubling to us.

Now, apart from the very basic fact that using these stock insults identifies you as being small-minded and hateful, and is generally despicable, here are five other reasons you shouldn’t use the bog standard range of insults: