Segue

This word, usually used as a noun, has moved from the area of music to general usage in the last few years.  It describes moving smoothly from one part or section to another.

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The musical is so well constructed that one song segues into another with the audience barely noticing.

It has been adopted in other circumstances.

The debate segued from a discussion on rape to an analysis of gender politics overall.

segue1

The main living room segues into a bigger community space, suitable for as a games room or a large study space for the children.

 The pronunciation is “seg-way”, and there has also been some attempts to spell it in this way, given that the Italian original could be tricky for some.  It can also be used as a noun “ the/ a segue”.

I can’t help feeling that it is the sort of word you use to show off, unless you belong to a culture that might use it frequently and outside musicians I have a hard time thinking who they might be.  Nonetheless, it is now a commonly employed word, especially in the US. Maybe we can say it is bringing some color into the language.

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By the way, the word “Segway” is the brand name for a two wheel scooter!

 

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Post-truth

post-truth

This expression, used to label politics in the last year, is one of the catchwords of the moment and is generating a considerable amount of debate. It has even been voted word of the year in some websites.

Like post-modern and post-election it has been coined to describe a period we are living in that follows something else. Before we were truthful, now we are not, hence post-truth.

Popular as it is, and despite its chances of a reasonably long shelf life, it is a good example of an inaccurate and generalised term that says less than it suggests.

First, this is because truth has not ceased to exist. To have lies you must have truth, they go together. What I guess it is trying to say is that there seems to be more tolerance of lying in public life these days.

Next, it depends what you mean by truth. For one person, something might be real and true while for another it is false. Even seemingly absolute truths like concrete tangible acts and things can be subject to debate and interpretation. Simply because each person’s perspective is different.

Thirdly, it has been initially applied to specific actions and words of certain politicians. It is still somewhat early to describe this as a trend or indicative of this period.  Or is it?

Politicians have been shown to lie since time immemorial (think of the Greeks and the Egyptians) so all that may be happening now is that our enhanced access to the political world via TV and the internet is allowing us to see the full extent of the lies!

I would go one step further and say that mankind has made the lie, or the white lie an integral part of social communication, in order to get along with each other. Telling the absolute truth is not what people tend to want to hear all the time and no one more than politicians know this.  Therefore, they give us glossy campaign promises, vague uplifting statements (Make America Great Again), which lead people to believe in things that are not depicted so clearly.

The fact that post-truth is a euphemism is a great example. Much more palatable to say we live in a post-truth political world than to say we live in a political world of lies and lying.

So, before we get all indignant about this new moment in our history, let’s ask ourselves if it is not more of the same wrapped in different shiny paper.

 

Fembots and Maybot

fembot

A fembot is the type of female robot made famous in the Austin Powers movies for being sufficiently seductive to lure men and then kill them.  Firing poisonous gas from their boobs was one of their cute tricks.

The other day I was reading about the Maybot.  This is the nickname at least one (John Crace in The Guardian) or more British journalists have given to their Prime Minister Theresa May.  maybot

Apparently she is being very slow to make a move on the plan for Britain leaving the European Union (Brexit) and quick to fall back on old platitudes and vague generalisations.  So much so that she seems like a robot repeating a recorded message. And so the term Maybot is born.

Of course, her surname says exactly the opposite of the determined, sure pair of hands her party claimed when they voted for her to replace David Cameron. She MAY or MAY NOT be that but it is not a name like WILLS or ACTON (Think about it!) which suggest more proactivity.

With Theresa we might end up with a fair amount of dithering and fence-sitting, though to tell the truth her job is not an enviable one.

 

Backstory

backstory

I once wrote a poem about a person who had a story regarding his back. Nowadays many have tales tattooed onto their backs. But what about the usage of this word – backstory?

Well, it is appearing more and more frequently and basically means the story behind an item of news or something that appears in the media.

With the backstory, you may get the details of how a writer got to publish his work, how a photographer overcame many difficulties to take a photograph or the poor childhood background of someone who is dripping with money today.  They are often human interest stories: overcoming illness, a chance meeting, the real reasons behind some action.

“There’s a great backstory to the robbery of that painting from the mayoral residence.  It turns out that his mother organised the heist to get revenge for being locked up during his campaign for mayoralty. You would never have guessed it from the smiling faces.  It just goes to show what goes on behind the scenes.”