Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

Does the number 1661 mean anything to you?  In American slang it refers to woman said to look 16 years old from the back and 61 years old from the front! In other words,an older woman, who dresses in fashions meant for youngsters.

What is slang? It is an informal,non-standard, variety of speech, characterized by newly coined and rapidly changing words and phrases. You can use slang only with people whom you know well. Slang expressions are usually not written and not used in formal kind of communication.

According to Micheal Swan, slang expressions come in handy when we want to express strong feelings relating to sex,famil, emotional-relationships,drink,drugs, conflict between social groups,work,physical and mental-illness and death.

For example:

I spent the weekend at my gran’s. (grandfather’s)

I’ve some sort of bug. (illness)

Shut your gob! (mouth)

Slang varies from country to country. In Australia and New Zealand, slang for girlfriend is Sheila . In South Africa, slang for traffic light is robot. In the West Indies you refer to your girlfriend as goose or cherry.

However remember that it is usually a mistake for outsiders(foreigners) to try deliberately to use slang. This can give the impression that they are claiming membership of a group they don’t belong to.

The history of slang is quite fascinating. Some words,which were once respectable, have been reduced to the level of slang. The modern English word shove was in regular use in the old English period. In the  Middle English period, it was replaced by push, derived from the French pousser considered to be more genteel and respectable. On the other hand, during the eighteenth century, the word kidnap was a slang term. Its application was restricted to the practice which the word literally suggests: “kid nabbing” or child stealing, then a very lucrative trade. Now it has become a respectable trade with a slight change of meaning. You can kidnap adults too!

Sms has given rise to a new kind of  slang. You could use these next time you send an sms to a teenager:

xoxoxoxo Hugs and Kisses

KIT Keep in touch

TIC Tongue in cheek

IDK I dont know

AB Ah! Bless!

ABT All the best


Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

The famous dramatist, Bernard Shaw, is noted for his brilliant wit. But many don’t know that he was a not too handsome bachelor. A beautiful lady once approached him and said, “Mr . Shaw, would you like to marry me Then our children would be as intelligent as you are and as charming as I am. Won’t that be wonderful” Shaw thought for a moment and said, “I would rather not, madam. I’m afraid they might turn out to be as intelligent as you are and as handsome as I am!” Well, Shaw’s presuppositions were quite different from those of the lady. There are instances where we make statements with certain presuppositions. However, in the very act of translating our thoughts into words, we miss the bus somewhere on the way, and our listeners get a message quite different from what we intended. Let us look at some notices collected from hotels and restaurants (Courtesy: Laughing Matters by Peter Medgyes) “If you consider our help impolite, you should see the manager.”  What the notice wants to convey, is that impolite behaviour on the part of the hotel staff should be reported to the manager. But the unintended message, which the reader actually gets, is that the manager is even less polite than the staff ! “Guests are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9am and 11 am“. It looks as though every guest must complain during this period. The more appropriate way of saying this would be: Guests may complain at the office, if they need to, between 9am and11am daily. In the above instances, the structure of the sentence played the mischief. Often the choice if a wrong word might lead to confusion. “In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter“. What the writer intended was to “alert” the hotel porter. The word alarm conveys the meaning frighten. “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid“. To take advantage, here, has sexual connotations. But the innocent meaning is: You can take the help of the chambermaid. Would you like to set right the following notices ?

  • It is forbidden to steal hotel towels please.
  • If you are not person to do such thing, is please not to read notis.
  • If your order is not satisfactory, please return the product to the counter and we will replace it with a smile.

How is the word ‘conscientiously’ pronounced?

Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

The first syllable sounds like the ‘con’ in ‘concert’ and ‘conscious’; the ‘sci’ is like the ‘shi’ in ‘ship’ and ‘shin’. The ‘e’ that follows is pronounced like the ‘e’ in ‘set’ and ‘bet’, and the ‘t’ like the ‘sh’ in ‘shoot’ and ‘sharp’. The ‘iou’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘china,’ and the final ‘y’ like the ‘i’ in ‘it’ and ‘bit’. The word is pronounced ‘con-shi-EN-shes-li’ with the stress on the third syllable. Politicians have real problems pronouncing this word. Understandable I guess, because the word means ‘putting a lot of effort into your work’. We all know how much work a politician puts in once he’s been elected!

  • Vikram is very conscientious, and I’m certain he will finish his dissertation on time.
  • The Minister said that he had been carrying out his duty conscientiously.

Source : The Hindu
Author : S. UPENDRAN
Contact :

thick and fast

Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

The idiom is mostly used in informal contexts to mean that things are coming at you very quickly and in great numbers. Another expression which has the same meaning is ‘fast and furious’.

  • During the press conference, the questions came thick and fast.

In Old English, both ‘thick’ and ‘fast’ meant ‘close together’. The idiom suggests that things are coming at you so quickly that they seem to be joined or ‘fastened’ to each other. Since the flow is uninterrupted, you get little or no time to react.

Source   :  The Hindu
Author  :  S. UPENDRAN
contact :

even Homer sometimes nods

Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

This is an expression which is not heard very often these days. Homer is the Greek poet who wrote two great epics: the Iliad and the Odyssey. The word ‘nod’ in this context means to ‘fall asleep’. What happens when you are at work and feel drowsy? As you are unable to think clearly, you begin to make numerous mistakes. What the idiom means is ‘nobody is perfect’: even someone as great as Homer ended up making mistakes in his two epics.

  • When I told Anjali there were a couple of errors in her report, she replied that even Homer sometimes nods.

  • Anand has been doing a brilliant job. Every now and then, he slips up. Even Homer sometimes nods, I guess.

The idiom is actually a translation of a line from the Roman poet Horace, who in his ‘De Ars Poetica’, wrote: “I think it is a shame when the worthy Homer nods: but in so long a work it is allowable if drowsiness comes on.”

Article source : The Hindu

Author : S. UPENDRAN
Contact :