How do you do?
People are so enthusiastic these days. Time was when the standard answer to how do you do would be how do you do, or, at most, not too bad, thanks. Admitting even to reasonably good health would have been regarded as boastful attention-seeking.
In fact I'd thought that understatement had gone completely out of fashion, even in Britain, but I came across a striking example of it in the i newspaper of 29 July 2014. It was discussing the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The original plan had been to demolish several tower blocks as part of the fun, but as it happened saner counsels prevailed.
'I confess a morbid disappointment when Commonwealth Games organisers cancelled the demolition of Glasgow's Red Road tower blocks...Some people, understandably, thought this dynamiting insensitive to...those asylum seekers still occupying the remaining tower.'
Insensitive? Blowing up a tower that still had people living in it? Insensitive?
I'm glad, on the whole, that the demolition didn't go ahead. But if it had, I really think that one or two stronger words than insensitive would have been perfectly justified on the part of the inhabitants.
Word To Use Today: whoops! The use of whoop or whup as an exclamation of surprise or derision appeared in English in the 1500s.
Prof Byrne has said that although it's been known for thirty years that chimps communicate by gestures, this is the first time anyone's bothered to work out what they're saying.
According to Dr Hobaiter, the gestures have the same meaning whoever uses them, which means they work like a conventional human language.
There is still, however, work to do. The some of the gestures seem to have several different meanings, but this might be because there are subtle differences that haven't yet been spotted by humans.
Here, as a public service, are a few bits of chimpanzee.
Groom me - big loud scratch.
Move yourself - directed push; beckon.
Move away - arm swing; hand fling; jump; object shake; punch object or ground; punch other; slap object.
Hmmm...you know something? That all sounds very like human to me.
Perhaps I don't need a chimpanzee dictionary after all.
But I still want one.
Thing To Do Today: say something in chimpanzee. The word chimpanzee comes from a dialect of Congo.