MICHAEL WOLSEY: Lament for sozzled cads and bonking trollops
The word ‘sozzled’ may be heading for extinction because, apparently, hardly anyone under the age of 30 knows what it means.
Well, dear youthful reader, let me correct your ignorance right now. Sozzled means bladdered and hammered and wasted and bevvied. Not all at the same time, of course. That would leave you rat-arsed.
Nowadays I seldom hear of anyone being stotious and the nautical ‘three sheets to the wind’ seems to have sailed over the horizon. But in Ireland we’re still getting scuttered and jarred, langered and wasted, ossified, sloshed, flutered, twisted, plastered and sometimes paralytic.
That’s when we’re under the weather, out on a bender and feeling no pain.
These euphemisms have a subtle grading that only the initiated can follow. ‘He likes a drink’ suggests a man you will rarely see sober from Friday to Monday, by which stage his wages will have been divided between the publican and the bookie. Step that up a shade to ‘he’s fond of a drink’ and you have a gentleman who was last seen sober on his confirmation day, and then only until the bishop was out of sight.
I admit this terminology does all seem a bit old-fashioned, as indicated by the fact that the subject is always a ‘he’.
Women today are just as likely to get sozzled, even if they don’t know what the word means.
Since ignorance is bliss, they can also get baloobas, elephants, banjoed and tit-faced. If that gets you on your feet, you may want to boogie – but you’ll give away your age if you tell anyone for, according to a survey by a group called Prospectus Global, few people under 30 understand this word either.
If both you and the night are young, you may fancy a bit of bonking, safe in the knowledge that nobody will call you a trollop, unless, of course, you have hooked up with a bounder or a cad, who will be old enough to understand the meaning of all four words.
I’m glad bonking was still around when I was a lad. It’s absence, I’m sorry to recall, would not have hindered my social life very much but it would have imposed a severe constraint on my early career when I worked for a while on the sub-editors’ desk of a tabloid newspaper in London. The word appeared in every second headline.
It was coined by Derek Jameson, when he was Manchester editor of the Daily Mirror, as a substitute for another four-letter word he wasn’t allowed to use.
Randy (also a suitably short word) politicians, bankers, teachers and vicars, regularly bonked their way across red-top pages. Ah, Mr Jameson, where would we have been without you? We might have been forced to use a bit of imagination and come up with words of our own.
Bonk bears no relation to ‘bonkers’, meaning a bit crazy, another tabloid favourite that is fading from use. So, according to the Prospectus Global survey, is balderdash.
But someone talking balderdash can still be dismissed as a ‘nincompoop’.
Nincompoop was among the words Prospectus Global showed to 2,000 adults and the researchers evidently thought it might be about to join the cads and trollops on the endangered list. But no, apparently it is still understood by people of all ages.
The trends revealed by Prospectus Global’s study have been corroborated by Collins dictionary experts.
Using a database that tracks word usage, the dictionary’s experts found that instances of ‘sozzled’ in media had plummeted by 90% in the past 30 years.
Nincompoop is holding its ground but bonk is going the way of the dodo – appropriately, since the lack of bonking is what doomed that species. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, be thankful. It’s not suitable language for young ears.