Swap shop

It’s been pointed out to me that stealing all these lip-smacking and useful foreign words without a by your leave might not be morally justifiable. It offends the British sense of fair play – it’s just not cricket.

Putting aside the fact that we’ve been at it for hundreds of years I’d propose a solution. Instead of just pillaging what words we want, like verbal Vikings, perhaps we could have a kind of word exchange scheme – a linguistic swap shop.

The French, for example, would get a word currently in English usage and we would get espirit d’escalier.  Which, as you might remember, means staircase wit – the witty riposte you only come up with when the moment has long gone.

I’ve been thinking which words I would happily swap for any of those listed in my earlier post on the foreign words I most covet.

And the number one candidate has to be ‘chillaxing’. Most recently seen displayed in 100 point headlines all across all the UK tabloids to describe David Cameron in a way which suggested he might be slightly lazy.

Chillaxing. It’s awful isn’t it? Inane and pointless. You see what they’ve done there? They have cleverly conflated two existing words – chilling and relaxing – to create a new word which means – exactly the same thing.

I mean what, in the name of all that is holy, is the point of that?

“What are you doing?”



So yeah – French get chillaxing – we get espirit d’escalier and you can’t say fairer than that can you? Any other candidates?

2 thoughts on “Swap shop”

  1. I’ve just adopted ‘Arschloche’ which is very vulgar but rolls off the tongue nicely as an insult, it pops up throughout Marcus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ which I’m reading now and is excellent! In return the Germans can have – and keep – ‘well jel’!

  2. I think that’s German for bottom isn’t it – but rude bottom. It does sound fantastic though doesn’t it? Much better to be able to call someone that than the English version.

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