Everyone is probably familiar by now with the word "omnishambles", recently named by the Oxford English Dictionary as the 2012 word of the year. It's admittedly a mouthful for what is defined as: "A situation that had been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations."
Some might argue that "shambles' is already adequate enough to get across the message . "Cock-up" and "balls-up" also spring to mind for those who are not too fussy about their language. But it's always fun to have a new word, especially one that is so derogatory.
Originating in the satirical British TV programme The Thick of It, "omnishambles" has already been used in the British parliament by Labour Party leader Ed Milliband to describe David Cameron's government, prompting much mirth in the House of Commons, but less so in Downing Street. More importantly, one suspects that omnishambles could also be a very useful word in Scrabble.
Meanwhile, in Thailand
The big question is whether omnishambles will catch on in Thailand, which may have a few scenarios begging for the use of the word. You don't have to look too far to find worthy targets. The futsal stadium fiasco appears to be worthy of "omnishambolic" status. And last week's announcement blaming Bangkok's traffic jams on fried banana vendors certainly had an omnishambolic feel to it, although just plain "daft" is probably more accurate.
I had been hoping that during last week's no-confidence debate in parliament someone might have slipped in an omnishambles barb. However, it is rather a long word and also not that easy to pronounce, especially if you've had a few glasses of the amber liquid. And it's a bugger for squeezing into newspaper headlines. But no doubt it will be shortened to an acceptable Thai-style abbreviation. Some years ago, when the expression "over the top" suddenly became very trendy in Thailand, it quickly was reduced to "owerrr" in Thai.
You never know, maybe there will be calls in Thailand for the establishment of a Ministry of Omnishambolic Behaviour. It could ease the workload of the Ministry of Sweeping Things Under the Carpet.
In other words
In the battle for word of the year, omnishambles beat out "eurogeddon", meaning the possible financial collapse of the eurozone. Another candidate was "mummy porn" inspired by the Fifty Shades of Grey books, which I haven't had the misfortune of reading.
Of course there are always new words surfacing in the English language, not always for the better. According to the Collins Online Dictionary, among fresh offerings going around is the awful "amazeballs", meaning an expression of enthusiastic approval. One that I can relate to better is "floordrobe", the pile of clothes left on the floor of your bedroom, or in my case, the entire house. Another word not yet in the dictionary but a possible candidate is "decruitment", yet another devious way of announcing you are laying-off staff.
Stricter "no smoking" rules have led to the act of "smirting", when smokers outside pubs and restaurants start flirting on the pavement. There's even a new language, "spinnish" , which is necessary for understanding the vocabularly used by spin doctors, spokespersons and political campaign managers.
Sherlock hasn't a clue
One of my favourite words in the English language, which appealed as a kid simply because it sounded funny, is "discombobulation". It is defined as "an embarrassing feeling that leaves a person totally confused", an emotion I've experienced in Thailand more than a few times.
No less a personage than Sherlock Holmes was even said to be "sexually discombobulated" by a lesbian dominatrix in the new BBC series Sherlock, an updated version of the Arthur Conan Doyle character Now, that sounds a bit more interesting than the old Sherlock Holmes books my mum used to buy for me. And if you are not convinced, the theme music for the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr is also entitled Discombobulate. There appears to be a whole lot of discombobulating going on in Sherlock's world.
How tickled he is
Possibly related to discombobulation is "discomknockerated", a word created by veteran British comedian Ken Dodd, a source of all sorts of extraordinary language.
Dodd, now 84, is still touring, performing regularly and delivering his traditional opening line: "First of all, I would like to say how tickled I am ... have you ever been tickled missus?" It always prompts roars of laughter, even though everybody knows what's coming.
The ancient comedian created a vocabularly of his own , coming up with such offerings as "diddy" meaning something small and loveable, "plumtiousness", a combination of plump and sumptuous, and "titilfalarious" which can mean anything you want it to.
When he was awarded an OBE in 1981, the Liverpool Echo reported Dodd's unique response: "I am delighted. I am full of plumtiousness. The jam butty workers are discomknockerated and the Diddymen are diddy-delighted."
Now that's English how it should be spoken.
Anyway, next time the Thai parliament convenes it would liven things up a bit if someone in authority is accused of creating an "omnishambles" leaving the populace in a state of discombobulation or even worse, suffering from a chronic case of discomknockeration. It would be enough to give them the "collywobbles". Now that's a word for another day.
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About the author
- Writer: Roger Crutchley