Friday, 6 November 2015

Peppa Pig and the Word of the Year

As usual, the Collins' Word of the Year is disappointing. 'Binge-watch'? It isn't even a word, but two yoked together by the all-purpose 'binge', extended from 'binge drinking' (which, by the way, is correct - no hyphen. Strictly, 'binge-watching' would mean watching binges.) I know this Word of the Year lark has more to do with publicity than lexicography, but even so...
 From the shortlist, I'd have gone for 'manspreading', a word that clearly and usefully describes an everyday phenomenon for which there was previously no word. And what of 'transgender'? So last year, surely - the happening sexual identity badge of 2015 must be the wonderful 'genderqueer'.
 Talking of binge-watching, I have perforce spent the past couple of days doing just that with Peppa Pig (a subject of which I have written before). The adorable granddaughter has been decidedly out of sorts, and only repeated viewings of this porcine soap opera (interspersed with the occasional Pingu or Charlie & Lola) will keep her happy, or at least reconciled to her lot.  For the grandparents this is a strange experience that brings on a unique condition of brain-dead numbness that after a while is almost pleasant.
 Funny the little things you notice too - like the fact that the part of George Pig is performed by not one but two actors. George, I should explain, is Peppa's little brother, whose contribution to the dialogue consists entirely of stereotyped grunts and the word 'Dinosaur'. Okay, at this point some dedicated Peppahead might point out that, in the episode Cuckoo Clock, George says 'Cuckoo' more than once, and in the classic Rainbow episode from season three he manages the word 'blue'. However, this is still not much of a part for one actor, let alone two. Do the pair of them get together and have anguished meetings, digging deep to find George's motivation, the inner hurt that drives him? Do they practise method acting, carrying those grunts over into their daily lives, emitting only the word 'Dinosaur' at their smart dinner parties, to the admiration of all? Do both actors essay both word(s) and grunts, or is one the grunt artist, the other the Dinosaur specialist?
 Throughout the course of this Peppa binge, Daddy Pig, I have to report, retained his legendary uselessness, his catchphrase 'I'm a bit of an expert at these things' proving sadly wrong time after time. However, in the episode where Peppa goes to ballet class, he reveals wholly unsuspected skills, demonstrating an impeccable plié, relevé and sauté to universal admiration - all done with a degree of ballon that belies his weight. I found this strangely moving, but by then I was pretty far gone...


  1. If only AA Gill could write a review like that......

    Word of the year (as heard on the Rhine) 'Flüchtlinge', they mutter, as the good citizens of Köln foot the hotel bills for 2956 of 'em. The figure is precise, as you would expect.

  2. this morning on R4 Today programme, a university chancellor used the word 'operationalize' :(

  3. A peppa pearl in the cowpat? 'It's better than real - it's plastic!'