Linguistics | ‘Flipping someone off’, ‘shooting the bird’ and ‘the one finger salute’

Hello! Welcome back to my life! I've just finished my exams for this year (hooray!) and now i'm just finishing off some last bits and bobs before I jet off to Thailand for the summer! Seeing as i've got a few weeks to wait until I can tell you all about my Thai adventures, I thought i'd share some of the stuff that I got up to at uni recently. Well, when I say "at uni" I really mean "what I wrote at home in my dressing gown"... for a uni assignment. 
This is a post that I wrote for my University's linguistics blog, where we have a lot of freedom on what we write about!
I hope nobody is offended by the use of explicit language in this; after all, it's a serious matter! (Also, if my friend can dedicate a whole chapter of her dissertation to bondage and sex positions then I deem the word fuck, in this instance, acceptable). (Sorry Mum). Here goes!

The middle finger

‘Flipping someone off’, ‘shooting the bird’ and ‘the one finger salute’ are all expressions used to describe the act of an offensive action, expressed with one’s middle finger.
Lets face it, most of us are born with two middle fingers, however for some reason it is deemed offensive to show them to others. When I say ‘show’, I don’t mean flashing your new, funky, blue Barry M nail polish to your best mate- I mean displaying the back of a closed fist with the third finger extended, parallel to the unfortunate receiver’s gaze.


Just like many other culturally determined gestures, the middle finger has been around for many years and was even used in Ancient Greece and Rome. It was, like today, used as a rough equivalent for “fuck you”, “up yours” and other phrases alike. During these times, it was used as a phallic sign, a sign of sexual intercourse, and as a sign of disrespect; I’d say that the latter was the most common nowadays. It can be used to aid speech, usually used alongside the sentence “well I think you should fuck off!” and even in the place of speech, where a simple flash of the finger conveys a clear enough message that you’ve had enough of someone’s presence.

Everyday use

Do not fear! Being flipped off isn’t always as terrible as it sounds. Often, in friendship and family circles, it is absolutely OK to use the supposedly obscene gesture. When accompanied by friendly banter and playfulness, the finger doesn’t always to have a huge, disgraceful effect on one’s life. (Or maybe my friends secretly hate me and I’ve been hanging round like a bad batch of spaghetti al vongole for far too long.)

"Should I always wear mittens?"

So what can really be said about the finger? As a student, I am used to seeing it on an almost daily basis between friends and it really is not a problem. However, when an angry driver is waving it around like a lightsaber-of-anger out of their car window, we don’t receive or appreciate it quite so well. The tip here, is to know your audience: it’s probably not a good idea to wave it around in public where anyone can interpret your intentions; it may be best to keep it away from the elderly and young, and from anybody of a high social status. Unless you want to really tick someone off, I advise you to keep it in your pockets my friends.

WORD ABUSE: 7 annoying ways that people mis-use words

We all have a few of those Facebook friends who make us cringe to hell and back with their terrible statuses, which more often than not, include a simple word which has been abused by that person and used in an incorrect way. Unfortunately, it does not end on social media. Many people use these words and phrases in public too, which is even more embarrassing.

Here are 7 annoying ways that people mis-use words.

1. I can’t be asked

“I really can’t be asked to walk to McDonald’s, I’ll get a Dominos delivery instead”

Why could somebody not ask you?  Did they have selective mutism? Or were you talking to your dog?

What you mean to say is “arsed/assed”, which in itself doesn’t make sense, but slang is a totally different matter. 

 2. Literally

“Mate, I was literally dying!”

Don’t get me wrong, we all love a little bit of exaggeration, but if someone responds “Oh gosh, how awful! We must do something about this!” they have most probably taken what you have said literally. Use this word when something is actually happening.

I am literally telling you right now how to use this word.

3. Defiantly 

“Will you be my bridesmaid?” “Yes! Defiantly!

This might upset the Bride- to- be. You mean definitely, which means certainly. To be defiant means to be resistant. If you really don’t want to be bridesmaid, just tell her “no”, sista.

4. Generally

“I was generally touched by the story of the earthquake survivor.”

I think you mean “genuinely”, which means you truly were affected, rather than just a general feeling of sadness, which is much less effective.

5. Should of 

A: “You should of made more friends at school.”

B: “You should have gone to school, bro.”

6. Pacific

“I love Asian food, pacifically Thai Green Curry.”

The Pacific is a huge ocean between the Americas and Asia.

You mean specific, which means to be particular, or refers to a particular thing. So when we talk about the Pacific Ocean, we could discuss the North, or the South Pacific Ocean- to be specific.

7. Their, there, they’re

Their ownership of the house has ceased.
There are beautiful places to visit in Italy.
They’re the type of people to always turn up late.

A very good (explicit) representation of this is given here.

Sorted. Literally.

The Wonderful World of Procrastination | Revision and Exams

- To keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.

As I currently find myself crying into a nasty ‘Contemporary Strategy Analysis’ textbook, I wonder if I am the only one struggling to battle on with revision. A delightful form of procrastination that has taken my uni by storm, the app ‘Yik Yak’ displays to me that I am indeed, not alone in my contemplation, with endless posts from my fellow procrastinating students.
Some YikYak gems!
Its crazy to think how many students there currently are slaving away in the library, hating it and counting down the days until their last exam is over. It just makes me think: why do we do it to ourselves?! (I know, the answer is obvious- but still, it’s a shame.)

Meanwhile, I’m making (and drinking) endless amount of tea, allowing my housemate Henry to style my hair and paint my face, as well as wasting hours on end faffing around on my blog and writing posts like this one.

I’m either way too relaxed about my upcoming exams, or extremely terrified. This is causing me to bury my head in the sand, or, in actual fact, in avocado-chocolate mousse. Yep, I made that yesterday instead of studying, and I don’t regret a thing...

Further poor choices led me to eat out three times times last week, like, in actual restaurants. I also drank a few too many Desperados, which shows the epitome of my situation. I thought exam stress was meant to have the opposite effect on me?! Shout out to my buddies who accompany me on such trips! Although as my friend Charlie once said, “to study well you need to have a relaxed and healthy mind- and that means going out and getting sloshed!”


 The only thing carrying me through this horrid time at University is the thought of my upcoming travels, and how I won’t be able to go if I fail an exam. So fingers crossed my tears don’t blur this textbook too much, because apparently the content is rather important.

Good luck to everyone sitting exams, writing essays and anyone else spewing up words that aren’t theirs (but referenced correctly, of course)!!

Peace out,
Olivia x

Malaysia | Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur

As my departure for an 11-week trip to Thailand steadily approaches, I thought I would share my experience of Malaysia with you. Even though I didn't know I would be blogging about my trip at the time, I took a few snaps which have come in quite handy for this fairly informative/ informal post! 

In 2013 I joined my friend and her parents on a trip to Malaysia. It was my first time going to any Asian country so it was incredible for me. I was like a wide-eyed child compared to my blasé travelling companions who had made this same trip almost every year for many, many years. I can now see why they keep on returning! I hope you learn something fun about Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur from this- it was a great trip for me and I'd highly recommend a visit!
So many stunning sunsets!


First, we flew from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Airlines, which was like a holiday in itself. I never knew long haul flights treated you so well! Free wine, snacks and meals were available on many occasions throughout the flight which I found such a novelty because I usually fly with RyanAir who are….a little less luxury! (don’t get me wrong, cheap flights are da bomb!) We then got a connecting flight to the island of Langkawi, which took about an hour, and the plane was empty so I had a whole row to myself for a very welcome nap.
The iconic eagle of Langkawi and a terrible impersonation by me!

The Berjaya Resort

We stayed at the Berjaya Resort which is a b-e-a-utiful resort on the beach. It is famous for its sea and rainforest villas that are perched all throughout the rainforest and over the sea on long, sturdy legs. The villas are so plush and everything is so luxury, allowing you to feel uber relaxed and special. Because the villas are all scattered throughout the resort, whether it may be land or sea, you can call for the little shuttle bus to pick you up and take you wherever you want on the resort. That may be to the beach, the oriental village which features the famous Langkawi cable car, or simply the main reception building which is an absolute spectacle in itself, with huge hanging chandeliers, fountains and a daily live band. The resort has a spa so of course, I had to give it a go. Never in my life did I envisage myself fully starkers being massaged/beaten up (in a good way), boobs and bumcheeks and all(!) by a small Malaysian woman. I guess that's what you get when you order a full body deep tissue massage from a deceivingly strong masseuse!
Sea villas
View from the villa balcony on an overcast day


Two huge chocolate cakes greeted us in our rooms, which the resort gives to returning guests; they were incredible. This meant that the fresh fruit got neglected…. Sorry diet! Other incredible food that we ate at the resort was the breakfast, which we ate under a beach canopy daily. I had my staple of waffles or pancakes accompanied by a few freshly squeezed orange juices every day for two weeks and I don’t regret a thing. The beach bar also served the best chicken and peanut satay skewers of my life, and of course there was happy hour at the swim-up bar…
Apparently I like pancakes?

Night markets

Whilst I’m on the subject of filling my face, lets talk about Night markets! As you can probably tell, I am an insane lover of food. And shoes. And clothes. And anything cheap or a bit random and hippy-ish. Therefore, I was in my element at the night markets. I hate to say it, but I was too scared to try the infamous durian fruit. There’s just something off-putting about having something that smells like sewage in your mouth. Something I did eat though, and proceeded to dream about every day since, is something called apam balik. This is like a crispy pancake shaped like a taco filled with peanuts, sugar and creamed sweetcorn; such a dream! Night markets are great to see loads of different foods being cooked in front of you and it is all so cheap so it doesn’t matter if you’re not that keen on something; you can just buy another apam balik!
Market chickpeas | Me on the beach | Adorable animals on the tree | Coconuts
Delicious fruit | Tea in a bag | Honeycombe

The beach

What more can you ask for than the softest, beautifully white sandy beach you’ve ever stepped on? The weather was incredible and so were the sunbeds, which meant only one thing: extremely comfy tanning! And when being horizontal got tedious, a little walk along the mangrove path was always fun, or a big group game of beach volleyball with a load of randomers was great too.

Pink sky at night, shepherds delight! #nofilter

Oriental Village

The oriental village is a short shuttle bus ride away from the main resort and it features lots of little shops and restaurants, (the kind where you become best mates with the owner and you don’t get given a menu) which all surround a beautiful pond filled with colourful fish. There was even a little bunny sanctuary type-place there! The Langkawi cable car and Sky Bridge are a huge attraction in Langkawi. You board the cable car in the centre of the Oriental Village and ride allllllll the way to the top and then there are observatories, walkways and the sky bridge up there giving you incredible views of the island. 
Oriental village bridge posin'

Kuala Lumpur

We went to KL for about 4 days so we didn’t have huge amounts of time to explore! We spend a bit too much time in the shops than doing more exciting things unfortunately. Sad face!
Petronas Towers by day | Petronas Towers by night
No biggie.

Shangri La 

We stayed in the Shangri La hotel, which, seriously, lived up to its name. The hotel was incredibly posh, even to the point where I felt out of place in my flip flops. I must say, the breakfast was the best breakfast I have ever had in any restaurant/hotel/ anywhere on this earth. Think curry, noodles, doughnuts, chocolate fountain, fresh fruit, freshly cooked waffles and pancakes and even a whole honeycombe, which you simply spooned the honey off of. I want to return to Malaysia, just for those insanely, amazingly crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside pancakes!!
Inside the hotel/outside pond area


There are some craaazzyy shopping malls in KL which are full of expensive shops and brands. I tried to stay out of these places, firstly because I cant afford BVULGARI on my student loan, and second, why would you waste your time in a shopping mall when you’re in KL?! Keep the Pavillion shopping centre and the huge one underneath the Petronas towers in mind if you really must go hardcore shopping, but if you’re more into cultural experiences and cheaper exploits, read on.
Oriental umbrellas

China Town

As already mentioned, I’m a sucker for a bargain. This means I was a very happy bunny when surrounded by Longchamp and Mulberry ‘genuine copies’ in the narrow lanes of the China Town markets. If you want a ‘branded’ item, they sell it there for a few quid. It takes ages to weave in and out of the sellers and their stalls who so desperately try and gain your custom, that you definitely deserve a shandy (or two) and some tasty treats that you picked up along the way when you get out of the crowds!
Colourful Chinatown!

 This is just a snippet of what we did and what can be done in Malaysia. We had a very relaxing beach holiday with a tiny bit of busy city life but there is so much more to be done here! I will definitely be returning to see what else I can get up to! It is a lovely country and every person that I met was so nice; it is very refreshing to see so many happy faces. This trip opened my eyes  snd showed me that there is so much more to beach holidays in Europe (which is what I had only ever experienced). I am definitely now a little bit (very) in love with East Asia, so thank you, Malaysia for being so good to me!

Peace out, and 'a presto!'
Olivia x