Vocablets in the News: Making Friends with the Neighbors

What’s really going on in this Vocablet?  Let’s take a closer look at the story behind the snippet.

The Word:


The Story:

Queen Elizabeth II visits the Republic of Ireland (NPR, 17 May 2011)

I have to admit, United-States-centric American citizen that I am, I didn’t fully understand why the Queen’s visit to Ireland would be so important.  Yes, I’m aware of the history of bad blood between the two nations — rebellion and war do tend to strain relations — but I thought that surely these close neighbors had moved on enough to be civil, right?

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It turns out that some historical animosities run deep, and repairing relationships can take longer than expected.

Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the Republic of Ireland in May marked the first time a British monarch has visited the country since its independence.

The last visit was made by the Queen’s grandfather, George V, a century ago!


Why It Matters:

Some splinter groups, unhappy with the idea of a British monarch on Irish soil, planted real and hoax bombs in Dublin.  The threats were successfully defused, but the steps taken to protect the Queen on her trip still constituted the largest security operation in Ireland’s history.

In spite of these problems, the four-day visit represented a step forward for relations between the two countries, which have been slowly recovering from the decades-long grudge held on both sides following Ireland’s 1919-1921 war of independence.

The Queen’s vibrant green ensemble, no doubt chosen out of celebration and respect for the Emerald Isle, was a prominent visual symbol of Britain’s desire for friendship between the two nations.

Let’s just hope the Queen didn’t step on any Irish toes with her choice to decline to taste a perfectly poured pint of Guinness at Dublin’s famous brewery.


Making it Memorable:

What did YOU think when you saw this vocablet?  Do you have any ideas, thoughts, or stories about British/Irish relations or the monarchy?  How is this word and its story meaningful to you?

Looking for related Vocablets?  Try these studylists: Royalty & Tyrants, Countries & Regions

Language Matters: London gangstas say f**k the 5-0

Why bother with all this vocabulary stuff?  How is it relevant in the ‘real world’?  You might be surprised by how much the words you use affect the meaning of what you say.

The language behind the England riots (BBC, 12 August 2011)


Po po.

The 5-0.

These are just a few new words in the UK’s lexicon — all of them slang for the police — that traveled across the ocean from the United States with their hip hop and rap origins.

These are the "po po" according to rioters, even though they're not the same police that LA rappers were talking about when they invented the term.

These words, along with others of non-US origin (such as “yard” for home or “end” for part of a city), have drawn increased attention from the media because of the London riots.

While the words have changed meaning somewhat from their origins — the word “feds” obviously does not refer to the FBI when used in the UK — they carry a connotation that connects their users to a subculture that is known to hold contempt for police.

And they're not afraid to tell you how they feel.

In a similar way, when the media referred to “the community,” it was generally accepted that the term meant everyone who was not involved in the looting and riots.

Even the choice between the word “rioter,” which implies a political motivation, or “looter,” which implies simple theft, holds great weight in this situation.

Clearly, looters are the more reviled group.

These examples demonstrate the power of words and their importance in expressing meaning, especially when dealing with emotionally and politically controversial events around the world.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments!