Tuesday, January 26, 2010


click photo to enlarge
There is a mania today for shortening words. Sometimes these contractions become common currency before I hear them. When someone first used the word "Beamer" in my hearing I wondered why a term I associate with bowling in the game of cricket had suddenly appeared in a conversation about cars. It took a bit of work with the context to figure out that the speaker was referring to a BMW. Another example is "Corrie" for Coronation Street. The last time I watched this long-running soap opera it was the 1960s, I was still living at home with my parents, and Elsie Tanner and Ena Sharples were main female characters. And what about "uni". This coinage, which means "university", seems to have come about since many colleges and polytechnics were re-named as universities, and access to this tier of education was greatly widened. There are many other examples of the shortening of words, but I'll restrict myself to just one - " 'mum."

Before I deal with it I'll acknowledge that this is not a new phenomenon. Many words have been shortened down the years. The perambulators used for carrying young children became "prams", the seaside promenade became the "prom", and the omnibus became the "bus". When I was first introduced to the last mentioned shortening I wondered why the apostrophe indicating the elision of the first four letters had been omitted. Further enquiry discovered that when the abbreviation began to be widely written it was often included, but as time passed it was dropped. The same is true of " 'mums", which is short for "chrysanthemums". This truncated version is not yet as widespread as "bus", but it can only be a matter of time. Today you see it, mainly, on market stalls and in garden centres. The former location is, I suppose, understandable given the reputation for bad spelling that market traders enjoy. But it is a ridiculous shortening with or without the leading apostrophe.

Today's photograph shows the chrysanthemums that my wife bought on our last shopping trip. I quickly snapped them, with the LX3 set to macro, before they were unwrapped and transferred to a vase. On this shot I increased the exposure in post processing to the point where I just began to lose detail in the whitest parts of the image.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On