Know your English Education

No soft corner for the covidiot

What is the difference between ‘covidiot’ and ‘vidiot’? (KL Hema, Tiruchi)

Of the two, ‘covidiot’ is a relatively new word. ‘Vidiot’ is a combination of two words: ‘video’ and ‘idiot’. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word has been around since the 1940s. It became a part of everyday vocabulary, however, only in the 1980s, when watching videos at home became a popular way of spending time. A ‘vidiot’ is someone who spends a lot of his/her time watching videos, without really worrying about the quality of what he/she is watching. This idiot watches indiscriminately; he/she watches whatever he/she can lay his/her hands on. The word can also be used to refer to someone who watches a lot of TV and spends a lot of time playing video games. The stress in this word is on the first syllable -VI-di-et.

I’m sure all the vidiots out there are looking forward to seeing this movie.

During weekends, I turn into a vidiot.

‘Covidiot’, a word that was coined last year, is a combination of Covid and idiot. The covidiot is an idiot who does everything that he/she is not supposed to, when in public. He/she walks around without a mask, does not maintain social distance, and chooses not follow the other norms that we are supposed to in these trying times. The word also suggests that the individual is someone who believes that stores will run out of goods soon, and therefore buys things in bulk, and hoards them. The main stress, in this case, is on the second syllable — co-VI-di-et.

There were many covidiots in the supermarket today.

I made the mistake of getting into an argument with a covidiot.

Is the expression ‘to have a soft corner for someone’ an Indianism? (Mayank, Pune)

Yes, it is. Native speakers of English tend to say, ‘soft spot’ and not ‘soft corner’. When you say that you have a soft spot for someone, what you are suggesting is that you like the individual very much. You may not be able to explain the reason for your fondness; all that you know is that you are fond of the individual, and you don’t really care if your feelings are not reciprocated. In fact, the individual may be unworthy of your affection. So, is it wrong to say, ‘soft corner’? A native speaker may not immediately understand what you are trying to say, but within India, most people will.

You’ll never say anything against Seema because you have a soft spot for her.

He has a soft spot for feel good movies.

What do you call a person who plays the flute? (J. Mala, Chennai)

Americans call him ‘flutist’— the ‘flut’ is pronounced like the word ‘flute’. The British, on the other hand, call a flute player, ‘flautist’. The ‘au’ sounds like the ‘aw’ in ‘saw’, ‘jaw’ and ‘law’.

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Of course, I’m in shape. Round is a shape. – Anonymous

The writer teaches at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. upendrankye@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 10:48:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/no-soft-corner-for-the-covidiot/article34294719.ece

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