Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press are currently surveying the way the English language is changing as it leaves the mouths of British people, for the Spoken British National Corpus 2014. It’s a way of keeping track on the sort of words that have recently become more prominent in everyday conversation—iPhone, tweeting, twerk—and those which are starting to slip from common use.
And that’s where we come in. Some of the words in this list have been highlighted in the survey as those which are dropping out of currency in Britain, which will at least partly be because they are not commonly used in American films and TV shows and songs, and that’s because they’re not commonly used in American speech. And that seems a shame.
So if you were to start working them into everyday conversation, who knows what linguistic rehabilitation we could achieve?
There again, plenty of words are abandoned all the time. It’s not the end of the world.
This is one of the words the Brits don’t use as much as they used to, and it’s probably because they’re not eating marmalade as much as they used to. And this is criminal. Every well-stocked kitchen should have a jar of the kind of sharply tangy marmalade that makes your face implode, as if someone stuck a sink-plunger to the back of your head and pulled it out. The kind of marmalade Paddington bear would approve of. Are you telling me you want to disappoint Paddington? For shame!
Superlatives are a tricky business. If, as the Lego Movie song suggests, everything is indeed awesome and awesome is the norm, then we’re stuck for ways to describe anything that exceeds that. Yesterday’s toast may have appeared to be awesome but what do you call today’s toast if it is palpably better? Time to break out some other words that overstate the wondrousness of things. Sensational is a decent place to start; godlike is pretty good too, but for true English hauteur, especially when used sarcastically, only marvelous will do.
Honest anger is one thing, and it should be treated with respect. But the kind of tense exchange that the word stroppy describes is that which you’d get from a teenager. It’s a flash-fire of a rage, one that boils up over the most trivial of issues—whether someone gets to sit in the front of a car, for example–and then takes the situation to a ridiculous extreme for no clear reason beyond how grumpy that person is feeling at the time. They throw a strop, because they are stroppy.
See also: shirty, minty.
Why would you want to describe a period of time that lasts for two weeks using the blindingly obvious term two weeks when fortnight is there for you to play with? It’s a beautiful word! It’s got fort in it! And night; suggesting a castle surrounded by men in suits of armor, ready to pounce when the moon rises. It is to two weeks what couple is to two of everything else. And no, “a couple of weeks” is not sufficient.
I don’t even know how many British people use this work on a daily basis, but more of them should. Fizzog is derived from physiognomy, and is most commonly used as an alternative word for face—one that Snoop Dogg would probably be down with. So you could instruct a messy child to wipe the chocolate off their fizzog, or demand that a smug parent take that superior look off their fizzog. You can even stuff your dinner in your fizzog, if you like. What you don’t tend to do is grow a beard on your fizzog, or apply makeup to it.