10 British Words for illness


As befits a nation that is often blessed with inclement weather, the Brits have a fine array of slang terms for feeling unwell. The ones listed here are only those that don’t appear to have travelled too well across the globe, leaving aside such firm favorites as, well, under the weather.

The first and most important distinction is that the word sick is not often used as a state of being in Britain. One is not sick in a holistic sense, the more common adjective for illness would be ill, but when one is ill, one can be sick—ie throw up.

And that, gentle reader, is only the beginning of our woes…

Similar to cooties, in that it’s an undisclosed illness, probably of a viral nature, that it’s sometimes fun to mock friends for having when you’re a kid. There again, cooties sometimes appears to be a tool with which to mock children from poorer backgrounds, in a way that lurgy never is, so it’s not a precise equivalent.

What to say: “I can’t come out to play today, I’ve got the dreaded lurgy”


Derived from rhyming slang, where Tom Dick = sick. A dicky tummy is one that is suffering with the effects of food poisoning, whether that’s upwards or, y’know, down.

What to say: “I probably shouldn’t come to work today sir, I’ve still got a bit of a dicky tum from the weekend.”

A catch-all term for an injured limb, most commonly used when the injury is permanent or has lasted a long time. Soldiers returning from wars with shrapnel wounds might have a gammy leg, and that would excuse them from further service, or a job with too much time spent on your feet.

What to say: “How’s your gammy leg? Still giving you gyp?”

Speaking of which…

While American slang uses gyp to mean a swindle or unfair outcome, in British slang the pain is very real. It’s literally a descriptive word for long-term discomfort or even pain. Blisters and sprains give you gyp. Aches and pains that won’t go away give you gyp. Lumbago is the gyppiest pain of all.

A general sense of things not being well that can occur at the beginning or the end of a period of illness. Feeling iffy is either a sign of impending doom or an acknowledgement that the patient is not quite out of the woods yet.

What to say: “Hey, how are you doing? Still feeling a bit iffy?”Image

Speaking Welsh
There are many fine British euphamisms for the act of throwing up—upswallow, pavement pizza, parking the tiger, driving the big white bus—but this one seems the most parochial. It’s an English person’s comparison of the kind of guttural white noise common to Welsh speech with the similarly throaty sounds of someone retching.

What to say: “I didn’t get a wink of sleep, Terry was up all night speaking Welsh”


As opposed to the American interpretation of off-color, meaning to say something explicit, profane or otherwise rude, feeling off-colour just means you’re not your usual healthy self. You’re a little green about the gills.

What to say: “I didn’t really fancy anything to eat. I’ve been off-colour since that dodgy kebab last night.”

Not a way to measure how badly a job has been performed, poorly in this context is simply a sweet way for a parent to ask a child if they’re feeling a bit peaky.

What to say: “What’s the matter, Polly, have you got a poorly tumkins?”

Same as dicky, iffy, off-colour and poorly, except possibly slightly more extreme. Ropey indicates that you’re still far too unwell to even attempt to get out of bed, much less put on a brave face and tele-conference your boss’s boss in Brazil.

What to say: “Sorry, Susan can’t come to the phone right now, she’s still feeling really ropey.”

And finally, the one that is not like the others:

A word that comes from illness—small, cow, chicken, take your pox–that has made its way into British slang from the Victorian era. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols was particularly fond of this word, which is liberally applied to anything that promises to be of some use but can’t do the thing it is intended for. So your gammy leg can be poxy, but so can your filthy flat, your faulty kettle, your parlous financial state, or even your health. It’s a catch all term of disgust.

What to say: “I’m not going to that poxy pub: I’ve got no poxy money and my poxy shoes have split.”

source: bbc.america.com

Bizarre Mental Case Studies : Brain and Language Connections

split brain

In 1861, the French surgeon, Pierre Paul Broca, described his  patients who had lost the ability to speak after injury to the posterior inferior frontal gyrus of the brain. Since that time, an infinite number of clinical and functional imaging studies have relied on this brain^behaviour relationship as their anchor for the localization of speech functions. Clinical studies of Broca’s aphasia often assume that the deficits in these patients are due entirely to dysfunction in Broca’s area, thereby attributing all aspects of the disorder to this one brain region.
Moreover, functional imaging studies often rely on activation in Broca’s area as verification that tasks have successfully tapped speech centres. Despite these strong assumptions, the range of locations ascribed to Broca’s area varies broadly across studies.

Here are two mental case studies that proves Speech functions can be damaged whenever Broca brain part, or Broca’s Aphasia is affected.  Take the first case study named  PETER. 

Location of Damage: Corpus Callosum :

Peter began to suffer from complex partial seizures at the age of 8. His seizures were severe, despite taking antiepileptic medication; so, at the age of 20, after struggling with his condition for over 12 years, he and his doctors agreed to have him undergo a commissurotomy.

The commissurotomy involved a surgical incision of Peter’s corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is the major cerebral nerve tract that connects the brain’s right and left cerebral hemispheres together; and therefore, serves as the major communication pathway for intrahemispheric signals. Removal or damage to one’s corpus callosum would result in impaired communication between the two sides of the brain.

On one hand, Peter’s surgery was a success, as it did end up attenuating the magnitude of his seizures. On the other hand, however, Peter was left much different than before. For example, he was not able to respond with the left side of his body to verbal input. If asked to “Stand like a Boxer,” his left side would sag and appear lackluster, while his right side would behave appropriately.

Because his brain had, literally, been split into two separate pieces, his left and right sides were often behaving like two separate people.

  • He complained that his left hand would turn off television shows that he was enjoying,
  • that his left leg would not always walk in the intended direction, and
  • that his left arm would occasionally begin to fight with the right side of his body.

It is clear from Peter’s case that the brain works best when it is capable of functioning as a single, cohesive unit,
as opposed to multiple ones.

Brains’ Lateralization: 

The left and right brains are connected by an intricate network of nerve fibres called the corpus callosum. It was the ancient Egyptians who first noticed that the left brain tends to control the right side of the body and the right brain tends to control the left side of the body. Although each hemisphere is almost identical in terms of structure, each hemisphere operates in an entirely different way and are associated with very different activities. This is known as specialization or lateralization.

The left brain is the logical brain responsible for words, logic, numbers, analysis, lists, linearity and sequence. It controls the right side of your body.
The right brain is the creative brain and is responsible for rhythm, spatial awareness, colour, imagination, daydreaming, holistic awareness and dimension. It controls the left side of your body.
The corpus callosum is a thick band of nerve fibres which connect the brain cells in one hemisphere to those in the other hemisphere. The two hemispheres keep up a continuous conversation via this neural bridge.

brain lateralization

Case study No 2: N.I.
The Woman Who Read With Her Right Hemisphere

woman who reads

Location of Damage: Complete Removal of Left Hemisphere

Before contracting her illness, N.I. was a perfectly normal girl. Unfortunately, at the age of 13, she began to experience convulsions, along with deteriorated speech and motor abilities. CT scans revealed ischemic (lack of blood flow) brain damage to her left hemisphere. N.I. was still experiencing symptoms two years after the onset of her illness, and her right limbs had become paralyzed. In an attempt to relieve these symptoms, a total left hemispherectomy (removal of a hemisphere in the brain) was performed.

Following this procedure, her seizures subsided completely. Sadly, however, her surgery had taken away her ability to read correctly. (Most people, including N.I., use their left hemispheres for language related tasks)Post surgery, N.I. was able to recognize letters, but was totally incapable of translating them into sounds. She could read concrete familiar words (ie: fan), but could not pronounce even simple nonsense words (ie: neg). Her reading errors indicate that she reads on the basis of meaning and appearance of words rather than by translating the individual letters into sounds. For instance, when shown the word “fruit” she would respond by saying: “juice.”

Her responses are similar to people with a disorder known as ‘deep dyslexia’, which is an inability to apply rules of pronunciation while reading. Deep dyslexics can still pronounce familiar words based on their specific memories of them, but similar to N.I., they cannot pronounce nonsensical words, or words they are unfamiliar with

source :  Bizarre mental cases/listverse.com

FDA Warns Public of Deadly Food Coloring


It doesn’t matter what color is the food you eat if you end up pale – and dead.
The lesson here is clear: Colorful food may not necessarily provide you a rainbow of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, and the other god stuff.
On the contrary, they may be a deadly deli platter.
Thus, the Food and Drug Administration has warned the public against processed food products found positive for rhodamine-B, a cancer-causing substance found in coloring dye.
In an advisory posted on its website last week, the FDA said three of 34 food product samples it tested for non-permissible colorants were found positive for rhodamine-B.


Rhodamine-B is a fluorescent dye used as a tracer in water and air-flow studies, and in molecular and cell biology studies. It manifests itself as a red to violet powder. It has been shown to be carcinogenic in mammalian models.
The FDA said the samples it tested were taken from ambulant vendors, public markets, groceries and supermarkets in the National Capital Region and Central Visayas.
“Most of the samples were unregistered and noncompliant with food product labeling standards,” acting FDA Director General Kenneth Hartigan Go said in the advisory.
Some of the products were icing candy from Cebu Crown Grocery, red gulaman from the Carbon Public Market and shrimp paste (labeled 7C’s) from Robinson’s Grocery in Talisay, Cebu.
“The food processors of the three products are in violation of the FDA Act of 2009 (Republic Act 9711) and the Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394) on the adulteration of processed food,” Go said.
He said the FDA Act of 2009 requires all locally manufactured and imported processed food products to be registered with the regulatory agency..
The DFA chief stressed: “This requirement is in addition to the permits issued by the local government units and other government agencies.”
Five other products that the FDA tested, meanwhile, needed further confirmatory tests for the presence of NPC Sudan.
Industrial grade Sudan dye is not permitted for use in food because it is toxic, carcinogenic, and likely contains metals like mercury and arsenic. Sudan dyes are used in shoe and floor polish, solvents, oils, waxes, and petrol.

source: Medical Observer

The Psychology Of Language: Why Are Some Words More Persuasive?


What’s actually going on in the brain when it processes language? And if words affect the mind in different ways, are some more persuasive than others? 

Here’s a secret right off the bat and I hope it isn’t too odd: one of the things I fuss about a lot, are words — very simple words, in fact. Should it say “Hi” or “Hey”? Should it be “cheers” or “thanks”? How about “but” or “and”? I’m guessing you might have a similar obsession with this. There are many occasions when [my Buffer partner] Joel and I sit over one line and change it multiple times, until we feel it really sits right. This is partly to improve our metrics for click rate and others. It’s also to simply create an emotion. The one key question we ask ourselves is: “How does this make you feel?”

That question might sound very obvious. And yet, it’s a very different question than, “Which message do you want to send?” or “What is the content of this announcement?” By always focusing on “How will this make someone feel?” when you write even a single line, we immediately improved the amount of responses we got from our users. Let’s dig in to how our brain works and expose some of the most persuasive words in English.

Our Brain While Listening to Words
Recently, a lot of the long standing paradigms in how our brain processes language were overthrown. New and cutting edge studies that produced quite startling and different results. The one study I found most interesting is UCL’s findings on how we can separate words from intonation. Whenever we listen to words, this is what happens: “Words are then shunted over to the left temporal lobe [of our brain] for processing, while the melody is channeled to the right side of the brain, a region more stimulated by music.”

So our brain uses two different areas to identify the mood and then the actual meaning of the words. On second thought, what still doesn’t quite make sense is why we can even distinguish “language” so distinctly from any other sounds.

The UCL team tried to find out about exactly this. They played speech sounds and then non-speech sounds, that still sounded similar to speech to people. Whilst measuring their brain activity, they found something fascinating: “Speech was singled out for special treatment near the primary auditory cortex.” In short, our brains can magically single out language from any other sounds and port it to the right “department” in our brain to give it meaning.

This graphic also gives a great overview about how our brain process language:


So intonation and actual wording matters, but what is the split?

The Myth of the “55% Body Language, 38% Tone of Voice, 7% Actual Words” Rule
You’ve probably heard this statistic many times before. Only in recent years have people explored again what the contents of that study were. The study dates back to 1967 had a very different purpose. It wasn’t at all about defining how we process language: “The fact is Professor Mehrabian’s research had nothing to do with giving speeches, because it was based on the information that could be conveyed in a single word.”

Here is what actually happened that triggered the above result:

“Subjects were asked to listen to a recording of a woman’s voice saying the word “maybe” three different ways to convey liking, neutrality, and disliking. They were also shown photos of the woman’s face conveying the same three emotions. They were then asked to guess the emotions heard in the recorded voice, seen in the photos, and both together. The result? The subjects correctly identified the emotions 50 per cent more often from the photos than from the voice.”

The truth, so famous author Philip Yaffe argues, is that the actual words “must dominate by a wide margin”.

Facial Expression, Brevity, and Avoiding Adjectives in Speech
Smiling: the highest positive emotional gesture
There are, of course, a number of other most powerful elements to consider when thinking about speech. One of the most important ones that researcher Andrew Newberg uncovers in his book Words Can Change Your Brain is facial expressions that we carry. Newberg explains his reasoning for why the Mona Lisa’s content smile turned into one of the most well known paintings around the world: “We know that smiling is a very powerful gesture; we were doing a research study looking at different symbols, and the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content was the smiley face. The painting of the Mona Lisa is one particular example of that feeling of calmness.”

Talk no longer than 30 seconds in a given conversation
Another element for how we can process language is the number of words there are for us to process. Of course we know this as somewhat obvious and yet it’s always a great reminder: “The human brain can really only hold on to four things at a time, so if you go on and on for five or 10 minutes trying to argue a point, the person will only remember a very small part of that.”

Instead, 30 seconds is the optimal amount for us to speak at any given time says Newberg: “Speak briefly, meaning that you speak one or two sentences, maybe 30 seconds worth or so, because that’s really what the human brain can take in.”

Avoid adjectives in speech and writing
Something I struggle with is to stop using adjectives. They are, in fact, one of the worst elements of speech and even make a listener or reader lose trust. Writer Kim Peres explains: “Using single words to describe actions and objects quickly brings them to mind. When someone “stabs” a straw into their drink we see it, but “pokes swiftly” is not so clear. When a person “meanders” it is more accurate than “walking slowly”. A man whose foot is described as a “hoof” is much more vivid that having “gnarled toes and sole.”

Reading this, hit me like a rock and couldn’t make it any more clear I think. Peres goes on to explain that “too much unnecessary text induces skipping”, which shows how detrimental adjectives can be. What we easily forget on a very high level is that using less words builds trust. So any words that don’t convey meaning can erode our readers and listeners interest. I think this is one of the most important elements I want to keep reminding myself of.

Three Ideas to Keep in Mind When Using Language
The skill of asking questions: “What would you do?”
When I read this, I realised, I totally suck at it. One of the best journalists and now turned entrepreneur Evan Ratliff put it like this: “All that’s really saved me (so far) from madness is being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers.” He points out that any questions that start with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “how” or “why” are likely to get great responses. To be avoided are “would”, “should”, “is”, “are” and “do you think”, as they can limit how people respond to you a lot. To give an example:

Good: “What would you do?”
Bad: “Would you do X?”
Terrible: “Would you do X or Y or Z or Q or M or W or … ?”

His advice is to practice questions that begin with the 5Ws in order to have more meaningful conversations.

Removing “is” from your language

This next one is super interesting. Alfred Korzybski, the creator of General Semantics, was firmly convinced that the ‘to be’ verbs like “I am, he is, they are, we are” promoted insanity. Why? Quite simply because things can’t be exactly equal to something else. Douglas Cartwright explains further: “This X = Y creates all kinds of mental anguish and it doesn’t need to because we never can reduce ourselves to single concepts. You believe yourself to have more complexity than that, don’t you? Yet unconsciously accepting this languaging constrains us to believe we operate as nothing more or less than the idea we identified ourselves with.”

Read the following list of examples and you’ll see immediately how different the outcome of the statements is:

He is an idiot vs. He acted like an idiot in my eyes
She is depressed vs. She looks depressed to me
I am a failure vs. I think I’ve failed at this task
I am convinced that vs. It appears to me that

You, Because, Free, Instantly, New: The 5 Most Persuasive Words in English
In a terrific article, Gregory Ciotti researched the top five words in English. His list is not suprising and yet the research behind it, is extremely powerful.

You: or your name is something that’s so easy to be forgotten and yet so important for great communication.

Because: Because is probably as dangerous as it is useful. Creating a causal relationship is incredibly persuasive: “even giving weak reasons have been shown to be more persuasive than giving no reason at all.”

Instantly: If we can trigger something immediately, our brain jumps on it like a shark, says Greg: “Words like “instant”, “immediately”, or even “fast” are triggers for flipping the switch on that mid-brain activity.”

Memory Loss and Dementia


Many people become forgetful as they become older. This is common and is often not due to dementia. There are also other disorders such as depression and an underactive thyroid that can cause memory problems. Dementia is the most serious form of memory problem. It causes a loss of mental ability, and other symptoms. Dementia can be caused by various disorders which affect parts of the brain involved with thought processes. Most cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or dementia with Lewy bodies. Symptoms of dementia develop gradually and typically become worse over a number of years. The most important part of treatment for dementia is good-quality support and care for the person with dementia and for their carers. In some cases, treatment with medicines may be helpful.

What is memory loss and what are the causes?
Everybody forgets things from time to time. In general, the things that you tend to forget most easily are the things that you feel do not matter as much. The things that you tend to remember most easily are the things that are important to you – for example, a special birthday. However, some people just seem to have a better memory than others, and some people are more forgetful than others.

There are certain situations that can affect your memory and make you become more forgetful than you normally are. They can include the following.

Poor concentration
If your concentration is poor then you do not notice things as much, and do not retain things as much as you would normally. Poor concentration can be a result of simply being bored or tired. However, it can also be a symptom of depression and anxiety.
As well as poor concentration, some people with depression also have slowed thinking. This can cause memory problems until the depression clears. Do tell a doctor if you think that you are depressed, as treatment often works well. Other symptoms of depression include: a low mood for most of the time; loss of enjoyment and interest in life; abnormal sadness; weepiness; feelings of guilt or being useless; poor motivation; sleeping problems; tiredness; difficulty with affection; poor appetite; being irritable or restless.

Physical illness
If you feel ill, this can affect concentration and memory. Certain illnesses can directly affect the way your brain works. For example, an underactive thyroid can slow down your body’s functions, including your brain, and can make you more forgetful. Infections such as a chest infection or a urine infection can also cause sudden confusion and memory problems, particularly in older people.

Certain medicines can cause confusion and memory problems in some people. For example, some sedative medicines, some painkilling medicines, some medicines that are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, or steroid medicines. Also, if you are taking lots of different medicines, this can increase the risk of them interacting with each other, causing problems, including confusion and memory problems.

As everyone gets older, it often becomes harder to remember things. This is called age-associated memory impairment. Many people over the age of 60 have this common problem, and it is not dementia. For example, it tends to be harder to learn new skills the older you become, or you may more easily forget the names of people you have recently met. It is thought that the more you use your brain when you are older, the more it may counter the development of this age-related decline in memory function. So, doing things such as reading regularly, quizzes, crosswords, memorizing plays or poetry, learning new skills, etc, may help to keep your memory in good shape.

Dementia is the most serious form of memory problem. The rest of this leaflet is just about dementia.

What is dementia?
Dementia is a condition of the brain which causes a gradual loss of mental ability, including problems with memory, understanding, judgement, thinking and language. In addition, other problems commonly develop, such as changes in personality and changes in the way a person interacts with others in social situations. As dementia progresses, a person’s ability to look after themself from day to day may also become affected. There are various causes of dementia.

What are the different causes of dementia?
Dementia can be caused by various diseases or disorders which affect the parts of the brain involved with thought processes. However, most cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). All of these types of dementia cause similar symptoms but some features may point to a particular cause. However, it may not be possible to say what is causing the dementia in every case.

Common signs and symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Difficulties with abstract thinking
  • Faulty reasoning
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Loss of communication skills
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Gait, motor, and balance problems
  • Neglect of personal care and safety
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, agitation


Alzheimer’s disease
This is the most common type of dementia, causing about half of all cases. It is named after the doctor who first described it. In Alzheimer’s disease the brain shrinks (atrophies) and the numbers of nerve fibres in the brain gradually reduce. The amount of some brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) is also reduced – in particular, one called acetylcholine. These chemicals help to send messages between brain cells. Tiny deposits called plaques also form throughout the brain. It is not known why these changes in the brain occur, or exactly how they cause dementia. Alzheimer’s disease gradually progresses (worsens) over time as the brain becomes more and more affected.

source : Patient.com.uk