Thursday, 1 August 2013

Blab - Button, Zip, Shut and Otherwise Fasten It, Blabbermouth!

World War 2 poster, Gossip, Loose lips,

BLAB

Noun. Middle English.
[Probably ultimate from imitative Germanic base: compare with Old High German blabbizon (Middle High German blepzen),
Icelandic blabbra (Danish blabbre).]

1. A person who gossips or chatters; a babbler; a tell-tale. ME

2. Loose talk or chatter; gossip. LME

BLAB

Verb. Inflected -bb-. Late Middle English.
[from BLAB noun.]

1. verb intrans. Chatter, babble. Now specifically talk foolishly or indiscreetly, reveal secrets. LME

2. verb trans. Babble. Now specifically tell foolishly or indiscreetly, reveal (a secret). Frequently followed by out. M16


While it's not quite in the same league as giving away Allied ship movements during WWII, it's still supremely annoying when someone blabs the football scores to me before I've had a chance to watch the Match of the Day highlights on a Saturday night. On such Saturdays, I've even taken to completely avoiding Facebook and not answering my mobile phone, so wary am I of encountering some blabbermouth intent on ruining my one sporting pleasure. And it's not just sports, of course - anyone who's been captivated by a TV series knows what it's like to be a day behind the rest of the world, desperately trying to get through the day with your hands metaphorically clapped over your ears so as not to catch even the faintest whisper of a spoiler. Blabbing blabbermouths are everywhere, and in the age of social media it's virtually impossible to avoid them.

Jennie Lamere might be able to help - she recently designed an app that will block all blabber-mouthed, plot-revealing, night-in-ruining tweets and statuses from reach you via social media. How brilliant is that? I'm thinking of writing to Ms Lamere and suggesting an extension of the app into real life interactions. Imagine talking to someone, and the moment they start to blab what happened on Downton Abbey last night, your phone emits a piercing, 200dB screech, rendering all further communication impossible and you both writhing on the floor in agony. It could even have different settings for different people and key phrases:

"Oh, my baby did the funniest thing yesterday ... " SCREECH!

"I had an interesting dream last night ..." SCREECH!

"I read in the Daily Mail that ..." SCREECH!

"Hello, darling! Mummy here ..." SCREECH!

Hey, this isn't a bad idea. I could be rich. Right, keep quiet everyone - I'm off to learn IT technology and how to tell computers to ... umm ... do stuff.

Don't blab.
(but do feel free to comment)

12 comments:

  1. Hilarious - and cunningly done!

    If you could add: Good morning, madam, I'm calling from...then I'm definitely in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm just encoding the ... umm ... Java script for that ... uh ... HTML interface ... RAM ... things ... now.

      Done!

      Cold callers: set your ears to ringin'!

      Delete
  2. Ed, don't tell anyone, but I heard that Sally is a bit of a blabbermouth.

    -clueless

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is blabbing the same as babbling? Because I babble a lot, but I don't know if I blab.

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    Replies
    1. No, babbling is different, defined in part as 'prattle, talk incoherently or foolishly'. See C's comment below for a good example : o )

      Delete
  4. You do blab bibi. I'm not one to blab, but it was you that blabbed to me about Sally being a bit of blabber. The blab results are just back from the blaboratory : Bibi blabs!

    -clueless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's quite clear who among us is the blabbing babbler today ...

      *glares at C*

      Delete
  5. There is a simpler solution ya know!
    Don't do Facebook, and throw away the cell (mobile) phone!
    I'm very content without either! I don't have blabbers in my life!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's letting the blabber-mouths win, Jingles! Never!

      Delete
  6. Is it just me or does Blab share some linguistic DNA with words such as Flab and Slab all of which seem to indicate something in excess. Are there any other "LABS" which share this type of meaning or is this a coincidence in my mind only?

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    Replies
    1. Well ... I've done a bit of research, Damo ...

      Firstly, there is a connection between blab, babble and flab in that they're all (ultimately) imitative words, although flab is a tad convoluted. The OED says flab is from flabby, which is an alteration of flappy, which comes from the verb 'to flap', which is probably imitative (imagine the sounds of a flag flapping in the wind - flap, flap, flap).

      I must say, you'd really have a problem if you're so flippin' flabby that your fat is flappin')

      As for slab, it's of 'unknown origin', so no obvious linguistic connection. Even semantically, I don't really see a relationship, as 'slab' would only indicate excess contextually, such as if your wife complained that you put slabs of butter on your potato. If she complained that you were putting slabs down in the garden, however, there'd be no indication of excess.

      Delete