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17 Nov

Automaticness… what a word! At five syllables and with an awkward ‘c’ butted right up against an ‘n’, arguably it’s a little clunky and brash. I think of it as a teenager of a word trying to out-attitude a parent. Of course like the adult-in-the-making, it’s an unofficial word; ungraded, made-up and yet to be lexicon-ised. But it sounds so cool. Don’t you love the irony of a bolshy juvenile pouting angst and fury who unwittingly delivers a word so alluring you can’t wait to get out there and try for yourself despite being positively past the teen years? 

Sadly I can’t claim to be the mother of this invention. My respect (and thanks for this linguistic gift) is due to the verbal audacity of Paul Armstrong, Head of Social Media at Mindshare, a global media network company. He put ‘automaticness’ out there for our enjoyment during his presentation at Mumsnet Blogfest 2012* recently. Speaking to a packed auditorium of bloggers, he spanked out his enthusiasm for Social Media and invited us all to embrace the newest technology available, Armstrong insisted: “Google is the way forward”. He certainly held my attention firm for the allotted 40 minutes of seminar giving on the subject of working online to best effect. His enthusiasm for his subject was palpable and infectious. “Facebook is the Daddy! – used by more than a billion people, and more than 34 million in the UK”, he insisted.  “But Google+ is the new SEO crack!”. Armstrong is a copywriters dream with his munch-size quote habit.

Working with Google/Google+ will give online wordsmiths what Armstrong termed automaticness. It made instant sense. You just get the concept wrapped within. The notion that something is possessed of the drive and energy to make things happen in the right order without further input required. Repeat it to yourself and note the gratifying roundness of sound it makes when spoken loud. Auto-matic-ness. It has a great beginning, middle and end – a lovely completeness about it. I love its precocious use of 6 vowels to 7 consonants. Of course it’s not a proper word but it should be… in fact for Nickyswords henceforth it shall be.

*Sponsored by top dog of cyber-search engines, Google, alongside high street names including Boden and Skoda, the 2012 Mumsnet’s inaugural Blogfest event was a fierce opportunity to sharpen our cyber-wits with up-to-the-minute advice on working online. A fabulous line-up of writers, journalists and speakers included Caitlin Moran, Miriam González Durántez, Doctor Tanya Byron, Suzanne Moore, Rachel Cusk, Tim Dowling, Liz Jones….Mumsnet Blogfest 2013 is a must-go-to.

Icon be gone

7 Nov

Some words are sooo tired. Yawn. ‘Icon’ is one of them. Positively comatose with fatigue lying flat on the page. ‘Exclusive’ is another… worked to the limit and now lacking in energy. No verve, no dynamism being all puff, no substance. Snooze-ville. How about ‘innovative’, ‘luxury’ and ‘unique’? All equally applied with gusto in many a press release, product description or review, yet rarely do they stir up a sense of excitement. Devalued they have become unremarkable.
The problem is a seemingly general malaise with writers shirking their responsibility to seek out words that actually fit entirely the intended meaning. Lazily they reach for the nearest superlative, however knackered it’s become. Instead of trying words out to check if they suit, savouring nuances and carefully selecting the one most apt, we’ve become too commercial, too quick to pick up on the most sensational, most eye-catching. To attract attention, we emulate the style of advertising campaigns and news headlines and insert the nearest adjective of excellence. We confuse most popular with most appropriate. It’s a herd mentality. Baaaa…
Enough now. Move along… must try harder.


21 Oct

Amazeballs! I have discovered how deliciously liberating and uplifting it can be to add a new word to my vocabulary, and one which while seemingly slang-dacious, is now listed in the Collins online English dictionary as admissible for overt usage. Admittedly I didn’t actually say it; “amazeballs” I mean. Instead I sneaked it into a Tweet… but it felt just as good as if I’d yelled it out in a school parent/teacher meeting. In fact, my employment of such modern urban language was akin to knocking 20 years off my age – which remains classified information on a need to know basis only.
Oh how lightly I had popped the positively enthusiastic ‘amazeballs’ (denoting ‘approval’ in case you’re not familiar) into a message – using considerably fewer than my allotted 140 characters I might add which is equally youthful behaviour… and launched said missive into the ether. I smirked. How utterly frivolous.

Throughout the day I savoured the way amazeballs rolled around my tongue becoming increasingly tasteful. By teatime I was inserting an amazeballs into nearly every sentence – the kids were incredulous, half admiring half nervous about my literary adventurousness. By bedtime I’d received the  ultimate accolade: a return Tweet from a follower in New York: “We love that you can say amazeballs…” wrote my west coast American cyber-friend. Say it? I’ve moved on, since using it in conversation with the window-cleaner, scribbled it on a birthdaycard to my brother and, rather naughtily, re-named our cat (well, it seemed physically fitting). Their various responses have all been most rewarding indeed!