Do you spoon your cuppa?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Warning: this image contains disturbing words

This blog is a confession of sorts. I happened to read a post recently about beautiful sounding words in the English language. Opinions are naturally divided, but there was a throwaway line at the end about ‘moist’ being nominated as the grossest sounding word. That made me titter – as a panel at last year’s RWA conference certainly agreed (the panel was on language use in sex scenes – among the other offenders were ‘orbs’ to describe breasts, and anything ‘swelling’ – you know what I mean).

But this put me to thinking – not of beautiful words – but the ones I loathe. For whatever reason, two words in English – ‘cuppa’ and ‘spooning’ – have a special ability to set my teeth on edge. The title of this blog actually curls my lip. I have a bodily aversion to either word when I hear them spoken. They are insufferable; like Kevin Bacon and Uma Thurman on screen.

Why? I’ve spent time wondering. For ‘cuppa’ (gah …) I think it’s the mawkish sentimentality it invokes … of doilies and covered teapots and shortbread on plates. I don’t really have anything against those things in practice, but when lassoed and thrust forth by those two syllables, somehow it’s intolerable. And ‘cuppa’ (gah!) is an Australian institution. For ‘spooning’, no idea. The sound displeases me. I have no problem with ‘spoon’. Maybe it’s the connotation. Or it’s too cute. I have problems with cuteness.

This may be a sign of some kind of mental deficiency, who knows. But the aversion is real and produces practical consequences as I attempt to avoid using either word. ManBeast laughs when I insist on using ‘forking’ as a substitute for ‘spooning’. I quite like it, especially the cheeky euphemism, and let’s face it – both cutlery items nest in the same way. But for ‘cuppa’ … I’m coming up short. I complained to ManBeast about this the other day. Here’s a brief re-cap.

Me: There’s no suitable one-word equivalent. It’s driving me nuts. English has so many words you think there’d be one.

MB (in Sheldon voice): Hot beverage?

Me: Too formal. Besides, that’s two words.

MB: Cup of tea?

Me: Okay, but that makes it specific to tea. And it’s three words.

MB: Hmmmm. Yeah, what if you mean coffee or chai? Misleading.

Me: I do like ‘beverage’ though. Maybe I could shorten it.

MB: Shorten it?

Me: Bevvo.

MB: [laughs uncontrollably] That sounds like a bogan saying bevan. Too funny.

Me: [pouts] I don’t care.

So … I’m appealing to readers for suitable alternatives for ‘cuppa’, otherwise I swear I’m using bevvo. Either I need a better word or someone needs to point me towards a literary desensitisation program. I’d also be interested if anyone else has words they can’t stand to hear. Confess all! 🙂

Advertisements

About Charlotte Nash

Writer and editor, loves Australia

Posted on February 10, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. One of my many hated not-words – hubby. Sets my teeth on edge every time :/

  2. My solution would be – don’t shorten it at all. Just be clear and accurate and say what you mean – cup of coffee, cup of tea, cup of soup. Usually someone has to ask, “Do you want tea or coffee? Do you want white or black? How many sugars?” Yuk I’ll make my own thank you! That eliminates a lot of questioning! What irritates me is the unending shortening of words. Just speak clearly for heaven’s sake! It is hard enough to communicate well at the best of times. I do like forking. Cute! 🙂

    • Hehe Jeanne … the thing is, I don’t mind shortening. I’m a stickler for clarity in the professional realm, but among friends and socially, these shortenings and abbreviations are an important part of language identity (at least for me … ;). And I want to be able to ask someone the question in the same informal manner, just not using *that* word. 🙂 I remain hopeful there’s a good alternative out there. But I do plan on sticking with forking. 😉

      • Hehe again, you made me laugh. I agree with you totally. I do like fun words between friends or in an informal situation too. I loved speaking pidgin in Hawaii when I lived there for example. Language is such fun. I think forking will work itself into the language now. 😉

  3. Oops, hope I’ve never used the ‘c’ word (cuppa) around you, was unaware of your aversion to it 🙂 The funny thing is, it’s a word I have a positive response to, no doubt because as a child on a farm it signalled a break from hot, dirty, mindless & back-breaking work. Stopping for a c- or ‘smoko’ was just sheer relief. In other news, I’m tempted to ask Brett is he would like to “fork” but think it could end badly…

  1. Pingback: Fated and Hated Word Lists | Kimber Vale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: