Opinion piece by Jim Brigginshaw
Opinion piece by Jim Brigginshaw

Jim Brigginshaw: Last word counts for nothing

WE'VE all come across the lingo snob. He is the one who never uses a simple word when there's one that means the same but has more syllables than a politician has free feeds.

My mate Sam was telling me about this Pom who, because he came from the country that invented the English language, used it as if he owned it.

The words he trotted out were so big his Aussie workmates hadn't a clue what he was talking about.

Sam got an idea. He'd get a dictionary, learn a word a day and drop it casually into the conversation. That would teach the Pom that Aussies were no dummies.

It so happened that when he opened the word bible at the 's' section, he saw a beauty - somnambulistic.

When he finally got his tongue around the multi-syllable monster, he was ready for action.

It was smoko next day on the job that Sam got his chance. He managed to mention casually that his missus slept so much he thought she was somnambulistic.

The conversation went into hush mode. His mates sat in stunned admiration, their mouths open like mullet starved of oxygen.

The Pom, though, was unfazed.

"Sam," he said. "You are using that word out of context.

"The word you should be using is somnolent. Both words are derived from the Latin root somnus, sleep, but somnambulistic pertains to sleepwalking while somnolent means sleepy."

Sam was caught. How the hell was he going to argue about a word he'd never heard before?

He resorted to the typical Aussie way of getting out of a pickle.

He went red in the face and shouted something not very nice about the Pom's parents.

But it mattered for little; Sam had been shot down in flames, his career as a lingo snob nipped in the bud.

Last I heard he was thinking of standing for parliament.

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