Weeknote 21: Substances derived from food, and other new words

A sign on an empty card rack in a shop: "We're getting ready for Christmas. We apologise for any disruption whilst we make these changes."

Photo of the week: seen in WHSmith. There’s a joke in there somewhere.

The last few weeks have made me think about the things I like about being self-employed.

1. If you’re not well, you don’t have to see anyone.

I’ve had a cold but working from home means I can pace myself and I don’t have to worry about spreading germs.

2. You learn lots of new things.

Working for a variety of organisations means I’m always learning new things  – and new words. Here are some of the new words and phrases that I’ve enjoyed recently.

The blue economy: to do with oceans and fisheries. Here’s a nice animation on the subject.

Ultra-processed food: ‘baked, fried, extruded, moulded, re-shaped, hydrogenated and hydrolysed substances that are derived from food’. That will make me think next time I go to the supermarket: does anyone actually want to eat ‘substances derived from food’?

Backronym: an acronym deliberately formed from a phrase you think of first. (To be honest, I didn’t learn this through work: I got it from watching Only Connect.)

Aularian: a student at an English university who belongs to a hall as opposed to a college (niche, eh?). I didn’t get that from work either: I got it from the St Edmund Hall website, using it as a gender-neutral alternative to alumnus/alumna. The story’s great, by the way – it’s about their new green wall. It looks fabulous, and I’d love to see something like this for “Didcot Green Town”.

I also learned the French for GMOs: les OGMs. (That one was from work.)

In other news

And on the subject of new words, the OED have announced their quarterly update. They were sure to get some PR out of it by including some items from Star Wars (how did it take them so long?), but their own blog is more fun to read than the press reports.

It’s been Libraries Week, which I’m always happy to celebrate. I don’t have space on my bookshelves to buy everything I want to read but thanks to Oxfordshire Libraries I can read new books when they come out. Or a bit after they come out in the case of the Kate Atkinson: I had to reserve it and join a queue.

A pile of library books: Clearing the Air by Tim Smedley, Big Sky by Kate Atkinson and Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith.

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