clever use of words

A copywriting lesson from a children’s book

I bought the most beautiful book the other day – ‘On a Beam of Light – A Story of Albert Einstein’. It’s by Jennifer Berne  with pictures by Vladimir Radunksy.

It’s that lovely combination of just the right words set against gorgeous illustrations that make the best children’s books so enchanting and memorable.

Read the rest of this page »

Cut-out quotes: beautiful papercut art from Ant Design

If you’ve visited my blog before you’ll know I like images created with words:  I’ve written about several artists who work in this way.

I discovered Ant Design’s papercuts the other day and I love them. I know Ant Design as a graphic design agency founded and run by the very talented Kashmira Jhaveri. I also knew that, as well designing materials for corporate clients, Ant Design also has a gift range  but I’d no idea these lovely delicate pieces had been added.

Read the rest of this page »

A cornucopia of collective nouns

I love Woop Studio’s collective noun posters.

These limited edition prints are visual depictions of some of the wonderful terms we use to name groups of things. They’re beautiful to look at as well as revealing quite often charming and evocative words such as:
a zeal of zebras
a blessing of unicorns (which I’m convinced are real by the way. I mean, why bother giving them a collective noun if they don’t exist?)
an aurora of polar bears (yes, really!)
a murder of crows
a murmuration of starlings (what a lovely word!). And my favourite if only because I’ve was privileged to see two of these rare Cornish birds in flight: a chattering or clattering of choughs

I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll just direct you to Woop’s website so you can become obsessed too.


Woop Studios was founded by Miraphora Mina, Eduardo Lima, Harriet Logan, and Mark Faulkner. United by a love of graphic design, words and images they set up Woop to showcase the fascinating and quirky world of collective nouns.

They aim to be the definitive website for anyone who shares their fascination, and who enjoy words, images and learning.

I hope you enjoy them too.

We’ve been truly dashelled today! Having fun with Forgotten English

Day five of Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English page a day calendar, is particularly apt. Today’s word is ‘dashelled’ which means ‘beaten about and wetted by bad weather.’

I was given the calendar for Christmas, and I’m looking forward to unveiling a long forgotten word each day throughout 2012.

I’ve already discovered such gems as ‘toad-under-a-harrow’. Apparently it means a man whose wife not only henpecks, but makes sure the entire world witnesses the indignities he suffers at her hands. And I’ve leapt ahead to the weekend where I found ‘gubbertushed’ – used to describe someone with projecting teeth.

It’s funny how words from long ago seem so much more expressive somehow!

Jeffrey Kacirk was brought up in San Diego. He became fascinated by the dialog and ‘general antiquity’ of Shakespeare’s plays, which he saw performed at the nearby Old Globe Theater. In college he became, “intrigued with European and American social history, especially the languages, activities, and customs.”

He’s included these longtime interests in several books and calendars which you can find on his website, Forgotten English.

His book of the same name contains recipe terms such as dilligrout, and uzzle-pye. Mmm, they both sound frighteningly like descriptions of something I might serve up…

 

 

Fur flies as Tories get caught in cat-flap – but is it a catastrophe?

If you don’t like puns, or cats for that matter, step away from this blog post now. Home Secretary, Theresa May’s blunder at the Tory party conference yesterday unleashed a flurry of cat related comments from the media who have been in pun heaven.

‘Clarke mocks May as catfight over human rights dogs the Tories,’ taunts today’s Guardian on page eight. While the headline on page 10 of the Independent states, ‘Fur flies between Clarke and May as cat tale starts immigration row’. And last night’s BBC news programmes purr-sued the story with similar glee (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Can’t you just imagine the Cheshire Cat sized grins on journalists’ faces as they opened their laptops after May’s speech?

She couldn’t have given them a better pet to play with. There are lots of purrfect cat-related terms to use in ameowsing headlines for this sorry tale. And so many of our words are prefixed with cat

Read the rest of this page »

What’s the origin of Indian Summer?

 

 

Old Scotney Castle

There I was tootling along the M25 yesterday, on my way to Scotney Castle in Kent to meet a friend. It was a beautiful day and given the wet summer we’ve had, the glorious sunshine came as a welcome surprise. “Perhaps we’ll have an Indian Summer,” I said to myself. Then I started to wonder where the term comes from.

Read the rest of this page »

Household words* – what our language owes to Shakespeare

The Yvonne Arnaud's striking Macbeth poster

I went to see a production of Macbeth on Tuesday night by the Icarus Theatre Collective at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.

The staging was stark, dark and fabulous, and sitting there watching some excellent performances from the small cast of seven, I was reminded how much our language owes to Shakespeare.

OK. I know you Bard haters and detractors will disagree but so many of his phrases are still commonplace in our language almost four centuries after his death. 

Read the rest of this page »

Coast magazine feature on Dungeness artist

In my post of I September, ‘Painting with Words at Dungeness’ I wrote about the work of Dungeness artist, Paddy Hamilton who is working on series of paintings that use words. Well, more correctly, they use letters because Paddy is developing a new font called Dungeness.

There’s a fabulous six-page spread in this month’s Coast magazine on Paddy and his partner and fellow artist, Helen Gillian. And there, in the background of one of the photos is the piece of work I bought from Paddy on our last visit!

Read the rest of this page »

Grabbing the headlines

Grabbing the headlines

Whatever we think of the reporting standards in our national newspapers, they have given us some great headlines over the years.

One of my personal favourites is The Sun’s “Super Cally go ballasitc, Celtic are atrocious” following Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s 3-1 win over Celtic in the Scottish Cup in 2000.

I spotted one of a slightly more sophisticated nature on the front page of The Guardian in April and have been meaning to write a post based on it ever since. It accompanied a front-page story by the paper’s Paris correspondent, Angelique Chrisafis. She was writing about the alleged outrage of notorious French riot police – the Compagnie Repulicaines de Securite (CRS) on hearing they would no longer be allowed to drink alcohol with their lunch.

Apparently, up until now, even packed lunches provided to the CRS out of riot vans while they were patrolling demos, came with a can of beer or glass of wine. And the headline?

“Riot squad sees rouge as police vin gets bottled.”

It’s tempting to think that good headlines are the result of a flash of inspiration (an old stalwart, by the way, when I was Head of Press and PR for Nikon UK and writing about the company’s flashlights – yes I know, I know). But the majority of strong, memorable, and more importantly, effective headlines take time and a great deal of hard work.

Read the rest of this page »

A lesson in clear, succinct copy… from an estate agent

I’m sure I’m not the only one to be inundated with leaflets from local estate agents clamouring to sell my house. And I’m sure I’m not alone in consigning the majority of them to the bin without reading beyond the headline. Especially the one with the headline that read ‘Recent Let’s Agreed’. Sadly, I kid you not.

Anyway, one day last week a leaflet dropped through the letterbox that really broke the mould. It was from the Surbiton office of Hawes & Co and it grabbed my attention immediately.

Read the rest of this page »

Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. And speaking of useful - scroll down and take a look at the Oxford Dictionaries tool.

Click here to find out a bit more about me.

Word Alchemy Blog