Be chic, cool and casual

Know your English

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What is the meaning of ‘phubbing’? (C. Devika, Chittoor)

First, let us deal with the pronunciation of the word. The ‘ph’ sounds like the ‘f’ in ‘fish’ and ‘fill’. The first syllable rhymes with ‘tub’, ‘dub’ and ‘club’. The word is pronounced ‘FUB-ing’ with the stress on the first syllable. The introduction of the cell phone has changed our life in many ways. It has also resulted in a number of new words being coined. ‘Phubbing’ is one such example; it is a blend of two words — ‘phone’ and ‘snubbing’. The word is the brainchild of an advertising company in Australia. We often snub people by not paying attention to them; we simply ignore them. In the case of ‘phubbing’, you achieve this by focussing on the phone; instead of talking to the people you are with, you snub them by constantly texting or reading your messages on the phone. You pay no attention to the people around you. It is something we have all been guilty of sometime or the other.

We were meeting after nearly ten years. Yet, he spent most of his time phubbing.

My neighbour resorts to phubbing whenever he sees me.

What is the difference in pronunciation between ‘chick’ and ‘chic’? (G. Madhu, Vellore)

The two words are pronounced differently, and they have very different meanings as well. The ‘ch’ in ‘chick’ is pronounced like the ‘ch’ in ‘chips’, ‘cheat’ and ‘chit’. The word rhymes with ‘lick’, ‘pick’ and ‘sick’. The ‘ch’ in ‘chic’, on the other hand, sounds like the ‘sh’ in ‘ship’, ‘shoe’ and ‘shed’. The following ‘ic’ sounds like the ‘eek’ in ‘peek’, ‘seek’ and ‘cheek’. The word is pronounced ‘SHEEK’. It comes from the French ‘chic’ meaning ‘stylishness’. 'Chic' can be used both as a noun and an adjective to refer to the appearance of an individual. When you describe someone as being 'chic', what you are suggesting is that the person is very stylish; he/she is elegantly fashionable. The word also carries with it the sense that the currently fashionable clothes that the individual is wearing are expensive. It is possible to use ‘chic’ with things as well.

The new restaurant that my friend took me to yesterday was very chic.

These jeans are an example of contemporary chic.

The new-born baby of any bird — not just a hen — can be referred to as a ‘chick’. We can talk about the chick of a vulture, crow, chicken, etc.

Is it okay to say, ‘The former captain decided to unretire’? (M.V. Padma, Chennai)

Yes, it is. The word ‘unretire’ is included in many dictionaries. When you ‘unretire’, you come out of retirement, and join the workforce once again. You could be returning to your old job or you could be starting something new. The important thing is that you can ‘unretire’ only after you have officially retired from something. The example that you have given suggests that the captain had made an announcement earlier that he was quitting the game. Now he wishes to play again; therefore, he has chosen to ‘unretire’.

We would like you to unretire and help us make this company great again.

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Printable version | Sep 5, 2022 1:05:58 pm |