It all started with a horse. A ‘ranchy’ horse to be precise. A ‘ranchy’ Arabian horse to be absolutely precise. That’s what kicked off a week full of hilarity with language.

My daughter was playing a game involving horses and she was telling me all about her Arabian horse and the ins and outs of how you dress it up and play with it. A while later she came to ask me what ‘ranchy’ meant. I said I hadn’t really heard that word used, but if you talked about a ‘ranchy’ horse in ‘horse land’, then it could describe a horse from a ranch. She was adamant and said no it was a real word because the lady on the radio had sung it. Ok, I said give me the line of the song with it in. She said the lady on the radio was singing about being ‘ranchy’ and dressing up.

I explained that it was probably ‘raunchy’ she sang, meaning giving a sexy attitude style rather than being ‘ranchy’. Happy with that explanation, off she went, leaving me to dissolve into laughter at how much a ‘u’ can change a word.

Later in the week, there was more language adventure.

I was reading an article about how it’s been difficult to define how we write ‘COVID-19’ (or is it Covid-19? A blog for another time). I sympathise with anyone who’s tried to negotiate their way through how to consistently use the term when the term has been in over drive since January. It’s burst onto the scene with no parachute, no definite landing area and wind constantly whipping it up and down in a frenzy as it tries to keep its letters intact.

The article also covered sympathy to all those in PR who have had to deal with providing information on an unknown topic on a very rapid basis. Words really need to be perfect. There was an example about a medium-sized workplace at the beginning of lockdown letting their employees know that they were ‘monitoring the situation very closely and they already had a person who was self-isolating in work . . .’

It was swiftly corrected by stating that ‘a person in work was self-isolating at home’. The poor PR person in that firm must’ve felt deflated, but it demonstrates that two little phrases in a sentence written in the wrong order could’ve spread a whole lot of panic! An copy editor can always be of assistance in this kind of work. *unashamed marketing plug*

That person was probably trying, like many others, to scramble together information to get it out there, correct, quickly, on a regular basis. A lot of pressure, especially when as individuals we also had to make our own plans to take care of ourselves.

The best language moment the week for me came from my daughter again, back on the horse theme. She was playing an online horse game this time. When I asked her what it involved, she told me you find an owner, explore worlds, etc. I asked if she had linked up with her friend who was also on the game at the time.

She said, ‘yes, we played for a bit, then [friend] rode me’. Right. That’s a bit of a step up from just playing. She said it so clearly and definitely. Please forgive me if you think I’m pulling our conversation into the gutter. My intension is to give an insight into the pure innocence of language that young children have. Words are just literal to them and they don’t learn about double entendre until later.

To clarify, horses can turn into owners and ride the horses, then turn back into horses again. And yes, I did manage to keep a straight face – just.

With home schooling done for the week, on Friday I joined in the horse game (I was allowed). I’ll be riding off on my ranchy Shetland Pony with its raunchy outfit onwards into next week, with the budgie pretending to be my trusted pet parrot on my shoulder.