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Copse Could Be Policemen!
by Michael Franklin

We are all familiar with the word abominable. It means very nasty. But please focus on it for a moment, close the doors and windows so your neighbours do not hear you saying it, and then say it. Most of our use of the English language is reading rather than chatting - the internet and emails, newspapers, books, prices and labels in the local supermarket, timetables, road signs - and possible alternative meanings of the words pass us by. If we ignore the spelling and just hear the sound there are many surprises awaiting us. When someone says abominable, we are hearing a bomb in a bull. Because of the flow of conversation we do not notice the alternative meanings present in the sound of the words. Someone says “the reception was abominable”  and our understanding is instant. However, if you saw a cattle laxative advertised as “a bomb in a bull” it would not be less instant. I always think of a bulldozer as a cattle sleeping pill. Hearing the word carnation I think of Japan, and euthenasia are young Chinese of course.

A browse through the Oxford English Dictionary will offer you much amusement and surprise. Let your imagination wander. There are a more than two hundred words which - in the wrong context - could be misunderstood. It would be ponderous to bring them all into this piece of chatter, but let’s have a look at some.

Abandon could be Glen Millar, and accrue are those guys running the ship. You might hear acquire echoing from your local church (icing in choirs occasionally), and adieu coming out of the Synagogue opposite. I love a beer or two and appetite defines me perfectly, having more booze than boos hopefully. I usually finish early it being naughty to scintillate. Offered a drink, I said yes yesterday, and yesterday. It came from a Scotsman - tarmac! Fortitude at a big dinner, and was the cannibal gladiator? He probably did more than liquor, and she gave him energy enough to go for a newsprint!  Hopefully you are getting the point now. Yes - a sauerkraut is a miserable German, and the lamination is New Zealand of course...

Inevitably, there are many words that have impolite alternative meanings. Is a peanut someone who does not like to be more than five minutes away from a convenience at any time, and is a peewit someone who thinks they are stupid? Do not think too profoundly about peashooter and, in these days of increasing obesity, think of lobotomy cautiously. Do not ever visit Bangkok.

Footnote: A stray thought. Ladies’ seductive lingerie was not invented in Brazil - it came from Nicaragua.