The land of tailor-made terms

One of the many reasons I love the English language is that it allows for almost unlimited interchangeable usage of word classes. You can turn a noun into a verb (‘to pool’) and vice versa (‘mix-up’) – and even combine the two! (While this is grammatically true for my native language, German is far less tolerant of neologisms.) Here are some examples of inspiring English ‘noun-adjectives’…

noseblind – It may be a marketing stunt by a famous ‘home care’ giant, but it aptly describes what happens when your sense of smell gets used to a particular odour. How else can people stand working at Lush??? Some people are obviously noseblind with regard to their own BO or the perfume they use (in chemical-warfare-related quantities). And according to the group’s website, their products are ‘consumer-preferred.’

gun-shy – The one and only time I heard this expression was to describe a dog’s unsuitability for hunting. Apparently, it can also be used figuratively in the sense of ‘suspicious’.

streetwise – My husband is a moderate man. He doesn’t despise many things apart from Margaret Thatcher and The Pet Shop Boys. But when it comes to potentially dangerous situations, he can be outright anal (to use one of my favourite colloquialisms). For example, he says one should never go and see a flat offered on the property market on one’s own. It may be a set-up and one may end up being mugged or worse! And he always tells me to hide my purse when builders come. He calls it streetwise, I call it nuts. He calls it growing up in South-East London, I call it drinking from the paranoia cup. (My husband insists that the only reason I’m so unreasonable is that I’ve clearly never lived in South-East London.)

And finally, a known ice-cream brand used the borderline-wank-word expression ‘gelateria-inspired’ in a TV commercial – whatever that may mean. (Is it ice-cream that’s prepared in the same way as ice-cream?) It seems that advertising is a field with a particular propensity for such compounds. At least, the word inspires the creation of more such terms (‘a Portaloo®-evoking interior design’, ‘an OAP-riddled pub’, ‘a tosser-informed decision’…the sky’s the limit!).

Next week, let’s take a closer look at Britain-inspired houses, and one room in particular…

The Pommes Buddha says: Beware of nerd-induced ear bleeding!

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