Can Surfing Reprogram the Veteran’s Brain?

There’s no quick fix for post-traumatic stress disorder, but research has shown that surfing’s physicality and flow can give victims some relief and a way forward. The author hit the water with his close friend Brian, a former Navy SEAL whose service in Afghanistan beat up his body, tortured his mind, and pushed him into a zone where violence—against himself or others—seemed inevitable.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.outsideonline.com

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British idioms to spice up your speech

15 Hilarious English Idioms You Can Use to Add Color to Your Writing

Posted: 04 Oct 2015 10:10 PM PDT

laughing-pano_.jpg

An idiom is an everyday figure of speech or metaphorical expression that is commonly used by a language’s native speakers. Its meaning cannot be taken literary because it often goes against the logical rules of language, grammar and/or common sense. If you look closely at the literal meanings of most English idioms, you will realize they are often downright hilarious.

Here’re some of the funniest English idioms you may not know about that can actually add color to your writing and life in general. Most of these idioms are drawn from British English, but isn’t it about time you learnt how to speak (and write) like a regular Brit, mate?

 

1. “Do a Devon Loch”

 

Devon Loch was a racehorse that collapsed just short of the winning line of the 1956 Grand National race in the UK. If someone does a Devon Loch, they suddenly fail when everybody expects them to succeed or simply crumble at the very last minute when they were almost winning.

Example: It was shocking how Manchester United did a Devon Loch in the last minutes of the match against Arsenal.

 

2. “Bob’s your uncle”

 

This idiom is a catch phrase used when ‘everything is alright’ and means that something will be done, sorted or successful. It’s the British equivalent of “…and that’s that,” or “there you go!” How it is used is often quite funny.

Example: You want to go to the market? Go straight on until you reach the main road, take the first right, and Bob’s your uncle–you’re there!

 

3. “Do a runner”

 

When someone does a runner, he leaves a place in a hurry in order to avoid paying for something (like in a restaurant) or flees a difficult situation to escape punishment. Like many British idioms, this particular idiom originates from one of Shakespeare’s popular plays, Anthony and Cleopatra, a gripping story of romance and tragedy that was first performed in 1606.

Example: At this point, the con artist did a runner with all her money.  

 

4. “Enough to cobble dogs with”

 

This incredulous phrase is used to refer to a surplus of anything. The humor in the image contained in the phrase becomes apparent when you consider that a cobbler repairs shoes. If a cobbler has enough leather to cobble an animal that has four feet, then that cobbler definitely has a surplus.

Example: We’ve got enough beer in this party to cobble dogs with.

 

5. “Fall off the back of a lorry”

 

This is the British humorous way of saying you acquired something that was probably stolen, or you are trying to sell something that’s stolen or illegitimate. The American equivalent of the phrase is: “off the back of a truck.”

Example: I don’t know where you get this stuff. I suspect off the back of a lorry.

 

6. “Hairy at the heel”

 

This disparaging phrase was originally used by the British upper-crust to refer to someone who is ill-bred, dangerous or untrustworthy. The image of a hairy heel is indeed striking and funny.

Example: I can’t say I like Bob. I’ve once or twice had a row with him. He’s a bit hairy at the heels.

 

7. “Cat’s arse”

 

The humble cat’s arse–originally known as “felinus bottomus” to the ancient Greeks–is sometimes used to describe the facial expression adopted by a scorned woman. This rather vulgar phrase is apparently used because the (*) shape created by the woman’s lips resemble a cat’s backside.

Example: Bob won’t come to the pub with us–he’s afraid his wife will give him the ‘Cats Arse’ if he does.

 

 8. “For donkey’s years”

 

This British expression jokingly alludes to the considerable length of years the animal works with nothing to show for it. If you have done something for donkey’s years, then you have done it an awfully long time without any change or much to show for it.

Example: I’ve been a plumber for donkey’s years. It’s time for a change.

 

9. “All talk and no trousers”

 

Someone who is all talk and no trouser talks and thumps his chest a lot about doing big, important things, but doesn’t actually take any action. The thought of someone running his mouth with no trousers is funny.

Example: Be careful. Politicians are known to be all mouth and no trousers.

 

10. “If you’ll pardon my French”

 

“Pardon my French,” or “excuse my French” is an informal apology for the use of profane, swear or taboo words. The expression dates back to the 19th century when it was fashionable for Englishmen to use French words–a foreign language then–in conversation, knowing the listener may not understand.

Example: What she needs is a kick in the assif youll excuse my French.

 

11. “When pigs fly”

 

Pigs cannot fly. This often sarcastic idiom is commonly used among friends in the US to mean that whatever you are discussing will never happen. A similar saying was first used in Scotland in the late 1500s and a version of which even appeared in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland.

Example: Yea, right! You will get Justin Bieber to ask you out on a date when pigs fly!

 

12. “Cat got your tongue”

 

Imagine a cat eating or holding your tongue! Would you be able to speak? No, probably not. That is exactly what the phrase means. If a cat got your tongue, you are unable to speak. Your silence is oddly suspicious. Apparently, the phrase stems from the middle ages when witches were greatly feared. It was said that if you saw a witch, her cat would somehow “steal” your tongue so you couldn’t report the sighting. Not a nice thought but definitely a reason why you would be speechless.

Example: Come on, Bob! Tell us what you think about our little party. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?

 

13. “Have a one track mind!”

 

Most railroads have two or more tracks so trains can go in different directions. However, on a one-track railroad line, train traffic can only move in one direction at a time. If you have a one track mind, your mind is limited to only one line of thought or action. You are always thinking about the same thing.

Example: Oh, shut up, Sean! All you think about is food—you have a onetrack mind.

 

14. “Chew the fat”

 

This idiom means to chat in a friendly and leisurely way or engage in casual gossip sessions. It is said to stem from the practice of sailors, who while working together, or during periods of rest, would converse leisurely while chewing on salt-hardened fat. A variation of this idiom is “chew the rag” in American slang.

Example: “The women have gone to one of their friend’s house to chew the fat,” John smiled.

 

15. “More holes than a Swiss cheese”

 

While delicious, Swiss cheese is hard, pale yellow or white with many holes. If something has more holes than a Swiss cheese, it has a lot of problems; there are many things wrong with it. It is incomplete or lacks important components.

Example: You can do better, Mary. This essay has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

A version of this post originally appeared on Lifehack.org

Lack Of Up-To-Date Research Complicates Gun Debate

Vice President Joe Biden says his task force on reducing gun violence is facing an unexpected obstacle: slim or outdated research on weapons. Public health research dried up more than a decade ago after Congress restricted the use of some federal money to pay for those studies.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.npr.org

See on Scoop.itSociety and culture: The English speaking world

Jonathan Kay: America’s firearms culture forged by paranoia, racism and civil rights unrest

There is a fine line between responsible gun-rights advocacy and America’s GOP-enabled Yosemite Sam gun-cult carnival — and I feel comfortable drawing that line around the diaper section of my…

Sourced through Scoop.it from: news.nationalpost.com

See on Scoop.itSociety and culture: The English speaking world

Like, Degrading the Language? No Way – NYTimes.com

via Like, Degrading the Language? No Way – NYTimes.com.

Credit Tucker Nichols

IF there is one thing that unites Americans of all stripes, it is the belief that, whatever progress our country might be making, we are moving backward on language. Just look at the crusty discourse level of comments sections and the recreational choppiness of text messages and hit pop songs.

However, amid what often seems like the slack-jawed devolution of a once-mighty language, we can find evidence for, of all things, a growing sophistication.

Yes, sophistication — even in the likes of, well, “like,” used so prolifically by people under a certain age. We associate it with ingrained hesitation, a fear of venturing a definite statement. Yet the hesitation can be seen less as a matter of confidence than one of consideration.

“Like” often functions to acknowledge objection while underlining one’s own point. To say, “This is, like, the only way to make it work,” is to implicitly recognize that this news may be unwelcome to the hearer, and to soften the blow by offering one’s suggestion discreetly swathed in a garb of hypothetical-ness.

“Like, the only way to do it” operates on the same principle as other expressions, such as making a request with the phrasing, “If you could open the door …” — hypothetical, when what you intend is quite concrete. “Like” can seem somehow sloppier, but only because youth and novelty always have a way of seeming sloppy.

What’s actually happening is that casual American speech is, in its “like” fetish, more polite than it was before. Sooner than we know it, the people using “like” this way will be on walkers, and all will be right with the world.

The use of “totally” mines the same vein. “He’s totally going to call you” does not mean “He is going to call you in a total fashion.” It has a more specific meaning, although only handled subconsciously by speakers, as so much of language is. “He’s totally going to call you” contains an implication: that someone has said otherwise, or that the chances of it may seem slim at first glance but in fact aren’t. As with “like,” “totally” tracks and nods to the opinions of others. It’s totally civilized.

Linguistically, underneath the distractions of incivility, America is taking a page from Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” There is, overall, an awareness of the states of minds of others in much of what is typically regarded as Clearasil-scented grammatical sloth.

Texting’s famous “lol,” for instance, started as literally meaning “laugh out loud,” but now serves the same function as the quiet chuckles and giggles that decorate most casual conversations, as I learned in research I did with my student Laura Milmed. Lol creates a comfort zone by calling attention to sentiments held in common.

“I just studied for three hours lol” — no one would say that guffawing. It is a graphic titter, channeling the very particular drudgery the texter and the receiver both associate with studying. It warms texting up into a graphic kind of spoken conversation.

In this vein, the “because X” expression recently celebrated by the American Dialect Society as the word of 2013 is just more of the same. “ ‘Five Second Rule’ May Be Real, Because Science,” a blogger noted recently. The usage has a specific meaning, implying a wariness toward claims of scientific backing that all readers presumably understand when, in this case, it comes to whether we can actually always feel safe eating food off the floor. We consider the views of others, we step outside of our own heads. “Because X” is another new way to say “we’re all in this together.”

The increase in public profanity may seem to speak against such a sunny perspective. But what qualifies as profanity? Today, the “four letter” words traditionally termed profanity in American English are more properly just salty. As late as 1920, the lowlier word for excrement rarely appeared in print; its use has increased a hundredfold since. The uses of “damn” and “hell” in print are higher than ever in written history. No anthropologist observing our society would recognize words used so freely in public language as profanity.

At the same time, consider the words we now consider truly taboo, that we enshroud with a near-religious air of sinfulness. They are, overwhelmingly, epithets aimed at groups.

Gone are the days when our main lexical taboos concerned religion — with “egad” as a way to evade saying “Ye Gods!” — or sex and the body, as when Americans started saying white and dark meat to avoid mentioning breasts and limbs.

Instead, today the abusive use of the N-word, the word beginning with F that refers to homosexual men and a four-letter word for a body part that can be used to refer to women are considered beyond the pale even in casual discourse, to an extent that would baffle a time traveler from as recently as 50 years ago.

A keystone of education is to foster awareness of, and respect for, diversities of opinion. Changes in language suggest that the general populace has become much more attuned to this kind of diversity. The increasingly wide and diverse circles of acquaintance Americans are likely to have may increase attention to a certain conversational civility. Texting cries out for substitutes for facial expressions and intonations that cushion and nuance spoken conversation. The civil rights revolution hardly created a paradise, but its impact on what we consider appropriate language was revolutionary.

We may not speak with the butter-toned exchanges of the characters on “Downton Abbey,” but in substance our speech is in many ways more civilized.

We are taught to celebrate the idea that Inuit languages reveal a unique relationship to snow, or that the Russian language’s separate words for dark and light blue mean that a Russian sees blueberries and robin’s eggs as more vibrantly different in color than the rest of us do. Isn’t it welcome, then, that good old-fashioned American is saying something cool about us for once?

The Importance of Vocational Education

It’s time for a realigning of social values connected to trade work. It seems more and more difficult in small town Norway to find a skilled carpenter, painter or even an electrician whose work is not marked by bashed in woodwork, sloppiness, misplaced and wrongly ordered material, and poor written and spoken communication. Society is dependent on people who can do skilled work, and who take pride in it. But for that to be the case, society must honor and esteem the education and training that creates skilled workers. This an issue in many western countries today, as well as the developing world.

I am one of many English teachers these days who are tired of the one-size-fits-all treatment of vocational students, when that one-size is Low-Medium-Ability. There is a faulty general assumption that vocational training is for lesser-abled students. The fact is, there are better- and lesser-abled students in all areas of education, resulting in better- and lesser-abled workers in all social strata. It is ridiculous to assign higher social standing to academic studies and professions, when they are riddled with so many mediocre and low-functioning workers. Let us hope that more and more intelligent and skilled students will choose trade school training, and that the vocational training they get – and the skilled work they do – will be a source of pride.