Write on queue

A few days ago I had to ring a government department. I hate ringing government departments, but I couldn’t find anything on their website about this particular issue. The call took an hour and 44 minutes in total, being about one minute talking to the first person, about one minute talking to the second person who the first person put me through to, about three minutes talking to the third person who the second person put me through to, and about an hour and 39 minutes listening to ‘on hold’ music, announcements about the information I could find on the website, and automated recordings telling me that I was now the [number]th caller in the queue, starting from 59th between the first person and the second person, and 68th between the second and the third  and gradually counting down.

I mentioned this on Facebook, and one online friend who lives in another English-speaking country commented, using the spelling que three times in an otherwise perfectly written comment. I sent her a private message asking whether that was her usual spelling, or was widely used in her English-speaking country. Continue reading



Yesterday I emailed someone whose company’s domain name contains the letters q and g consecutively. It arose because the company’s name is a respelling of an ordinary English word ending with c, for example spelling Topic as Topiq. This is followed by the word ‘Global’, so (for example) topiqglobal.com.au.

No ordinary English word has q without u following. Websites (for example, Wikipedia) list words, but it is questionable how many of these are “English”. Most are borrowings from French or Middle Eastern, Chinese or North America languages.  Continue reading


 Acronyms can mean different things in different contexts, which is not surprising because many words can mean different things in different contexts. Many years ago I worked as an editor for a legal publishing company, and ASIC always meant the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian government’s corporate regulator.

My manager and I flew to Melbourne for business several times, and walking through Tullamarine airport on one occasion I saw a door obviously leading “outside”, with a large sign saying “Have you got your ASIC?”. I guessed that it meant “airport security identity card”. I found out accidentally today that it actually means aviation security identification card”, so I was close enough.

Sometimes I’m not as close. A few months ago, I saw a young woman wearing a t-shirt with the letters YMCMB. I speculated on Facebook as to the meaning, suggesting “young men covet my booty” (I had less context). Someone who either knew or did some actual research told me that it’s a hip-hop record company formed by the amalgamation of Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records. No-one on the internet is quite sure what the B stands for. There are a number of other suggestions – search at your own risk. Please don’t search on the Urban Dictionary.