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Showing posts from June, 2011

What is 'showboating'?

To act up/show off/attempt to attract attention by ostentatious behaviour. When Andy Murray plays a shot between his legs he could be seen as 'showboating'.

Originally an American term it has crossed the Atlantic, particularly when discussing sport

The term refers to the theatrical performances produced on the riverboats on the Mississippi and other American rivers in the late 19th century. But the verb 'to showboat' only dates back to 1951 - and perhaps also refers to the great theatrical performer, Al Jolson. Jolson's 'black facing' was beginning to become controversial at this time - and the term 'showboating' perhaps reflects cultural disapproval of ostentation.

What is the difference between a fat and slim chance?

Best summarised in this joke: you've got two chances fat and slim - and slim has just left town.

In other words a slim chance is a remote possibility while fat chance means no chance at all.

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang
Green's Dictionary of Slang: Three-volume set

Can good writing be taught?

Not according to one of the best contemporary essayists, Jacob Eptsein:
After thirty years of teaching a university course in something called advanced prose style, my accumulated wisdom on the subject, inspissated into a single thought, is that writing cannot be taught, though it can be learned—and that, friends, is the sound of one hand clapping. A. J. Liebling offers a complementary view, more concise and stripped of paradox, which runs: “The only way to write is well, and how you do it is your own damn business.”
Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. Read the full article here