The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

More Than Words

On one of Stephen Fry’s recent podgrams, he expounds upon the delights of the English language. Which, I suspect, is what you’d expect if you had a talking Stephen Fry doll with a cord coming out of the back. He even strays – I’m guessing inadvertently – into an old Fry & Laurie sketch:



Well, tonight, Matthew, I shall be Stephen Fry...

(RASPING INTAKE OF BREATH)

Mmm. Frussity-gusset nimbly-pimbly wibbly fluffy-bot, tish-pish, Aaaaaaaalan!

Mmm. Dimbly-wimbly Marjorie trousers moist lemon-soaked-napkins American cousins a smarter investor national treasure smooth-talking bar-steward Twinings. Aaaaaaaalan!

Baaah! Dear Oscar said Harry Pocoyo Blackadder Mr Wooster-sir Mr Dalliard Twitter I-phone I-Mac I-frussity-gusset Garboldisham Vivian Stanshall Prince Charles m’colleague Hugh bipolar gay the moistness and fluffiness of the BBC pausing to pick a buttercup though who leaves buttocks lying about the place... and Alan’s buzzer goes... Aaaaaaaalan!

...and witter about the delights of the English language. That is, the words we have for things which are mildly aggravating, confusing or nonsensical.

Take, for instance, brouhaha. It’s like a hoo-ha but with added brou. It may involve a hubbub, a hullaballoo or some hurly-burly. It may start as a to-do, a squabble or a rumpus but turn into an imbroglio or a fracas. It may even result in a kerfuffle or a ballyhoo.

Aren’t these simply the best words ever?

Or you have gobbledegook. Which is like a combination of poppycock, folderol and balderdash. With a side order of piffle, claptrap, gibberish and hogwash. The whole rigmarole and palaver.

That’s why English is the greatest language in the world. It’s the only language which has so many words for things that we don’t understand and for having arguments. You get a sense of where our priorities lie.

That’s the problem with the French - they have no word for brouhaha.

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