There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The "-ish" Factor

Funny how idioms develop. When I first moved to Calgary, I noticed people used the word "whatnot" a lot. Then, "not so much" came into vogue. Now, it seems everyone is using "-ish". This is more of a term meaning "kinda, sorta, not so much, really." So in reponse to someone asking "Did you enjoy yourself at the opera?", one could retort, "Yes, it was nice-...ish." "-ish" is best used with a slight pause before being said to increase dramatic effect. I find I am now using it as a stand-alone phrase in answer to questions. "Do you like the new Premier?" [dramatic pause] "-Ish."

Imagine my surprise when I went searching on the Internet, only to find an alarming alternate meaning for this term. "Ish" it seems, is also a slang term for "shit." Who knew? Not me. There I am swearing like a mad woman all over town and not even knowing it. Damn.

Then of course there is the etymology of the term. From whence did it spring? Old English, apparently. The suffix "isc" to be specific, and it meant pertaining to or being, as in, British or Jewish. Also used were cildisc (childish) and cierlisc (churlish). There's also a French version of the same term: "esque", as in picturesque.

As a good Canadian, and one whose bilingualism is fluent, albeit in a non-offical language, I shall do my best to incorporate the French version into my daily parlance from now on.

"Were you happy that Stephan Dion won the Liberal leadership?"

[dramatic pause] "-esque."

Catchy, non?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Nice Guys Really Do Finish First

So it was quite a Saturday here is Alberta. A new Premier and a new leader of the federal Liberal party chosen on the same day. Almost a Super Saturday, if you will.

And in both races, there were two polarizing candidates, and the race was won by the nice guy running third - and he ran right up the middle of them both.

Ed Stelmach is the new Alberta Premier. Ed who?, I hear you ask. He's known as "Honest Ed" to his friends. He's been in Cabinet since 1997, but not in any really high profile portfolios. Apparently though, everybody likes Ed. And the same couldn't be said for Jim Dinning and Ted Morton. Everyone outside Calgary hated Dinning, and saw him as one of the Calgary corporate elite. And when you think about it, he was the guy in charge of the slash and burn deficit and debt-cutting strategies of the early to mid-1990s. Hindsight has shown that to be a rather facile policy choice, as our scramble to upgrade and build new infrastructure at horribly inflated prices right now attests. And Ted Morton? Well, everybody in Calgary and Edmonton is afraid of his right-wing, neo-con, Bush-lovin' policies. So Steady Eddie seemed the best choice to the majority of Albertans who voted (and that was only 4.5% of the population - admittedly up from the 3% who voted in the first round.)

And the federal Liberal leadership race followed the exact same narrative. Two polarizing candidates in Rae and Ignatieff (former college room-mates and in all probability former friends after this race) with a nice guy running third. Dion steamed up the middle, with a little help from Gerard Kennedy, and won a tight race. I still think Ken Dryden would have been the best choice for leadership if the Liberals were thinking pure winnibility. Hockey icons would do well in Canadian elections, if you ask me.

One big different between Stelmach and Dion. Stelmach is a farmer, while Dion is an academic.

God help the Liberals.