Tuesday, December 14, 2010

British Word of the Day

telephonist [tɪˈlɛfənɪst]n (Electronics & Computer Science / Telecommunications) Brit a person who operates a telephone switchboard

He put down his pen. 'You work in the hospital?'
'Me? Yes, I'm a telephonist...'

By popular demand (okay, maybe not 'popular' but when our oldest Betty booster asks, we deliver), the word of the day is telephonist.

There's a scene in Auntie Mame where the title character has lost all her money in the stock market crash. As a result she looks for a job and, bar none, the one that fascinated me the most as a young girl was that of switchboard operator. (I like the idea of fitting all those plugs snugly into their slots...yes, really.) I present the pertinent bit:

Auntie Mame:
Widdicome, Gutterman, Applewhite, Bibberman and Black. You want to talk to Mr. Gutterman? One moment, sir. I'll connect you. Widdicome, Gutterman, Applewhite, Bibberman and Black. Oh, yes Mr. Bibberman. You'd like to talk with Mr. Applewhite? Oh, yes, sir, he's in. I'll connect you. Widdicome, Gutterman, Applewhite, Bib-bib-bib-blib-bibman and Black? Oh yes, long distance, how are you? Oh. Mr Widdecome? I have your San Francisco call for you. Yes, Mr. Bibberman? Oh. Did I connect you to Mr. Gutterman instead of Mr. Applewhite? I'm sorry Mr. Bibbicome, Bibbibibbib.
[She pulls the jack out of the plug and shakes it]
Auntie Mame: Oh Mr. Applewhite, what are you doing in that hole with Mr. Gutterman? Yes Mr. Widdicome? Oh, I'm sorry, sir. I'll try to reconnect you again with San Francisco. Let me see, Mr. Bibibib is in there talking to Mr. Bubbawhite. Where on earth is Mr. Applewhite? Oh, there you are Mr. Applewhite!
[She starts to cross cords and desperately plug jacks into holes]
Auntie Mame: Mr. Widdicome, there's no such place as San Francisco. Please!
[She lifts up her console and is horrified to see that it's glowing]
Auntie Mame: Mr. Bibibib? Mr. Widdicome?

As a word I love it but can't imagine Jim Croce singing 'Telephonist' instead of 'Operator'.


  1. I hope by "our oldest Betty booster" you mean someone besides myself.

    p.s. Look who finally learned how to use italics on these comments. From now on, I can punctuate the titles correctly--it's been driving me crazy.

  2. No, Betty JoDee, they mean me. And I suspect they mean oldest in the sense of being the first non-family member to find the blog. Sheer luck of the draw -- I just happened to be looking for something else on the Internet last February, and stumbled across The Uncrushable Jersey Dress.

    (Yes, I know I don't need to provide a link to the blog you're reading now, but I just wanted to show off that I can do hypertext links in HTML. Because I'm a brat...my age notwithstanding!)

  3. Ooh, I want to learn to do that--hyperlink, I mean (oops, I mistyped it as "hyperkink"--yikes)--not be a brat. My four older sisters claim I'm a brat naturally.

  4. Make them share Betty Debbie. If Betty JoeDee and Betty Magdalen have that italic flavored chewing gum, shouldn't they share with the rest of the class?

  5. My favorite telephonist has always been Ernestine. Sounds like a Betty gal, doesn't she?
    I so liked her bits about Gore-y Veedle (gore vidal) and Mr. F-buckley. Lily Tomlin rocked!

    If the greedy gussies above would share, I could have made that link look so neat. SIGH

  6. Betty Debbie, I'll only share my italics if Betty Magdalen has to share her hyperlinks. It's not fair!

  7. Okay -- everyone pay attention. You there, in the back, stop it with the spitballs. Very unhygienic.

    Okay. Easy ones first: < i > (only without the spaces) turns on italics and < /i > turns them off.

    < b > turns on bold and < /b > turns it off.

    Hyperlinks work like this:

    < a # href=" insert the url here "> type the text you want to show up here < /a >

    Okay, so that's confusing, because at least one of the spaces is necessary -- I tried to show that with the # sign. But if I type it the way it's supposed to be, it won't show up. Here's the way it should be with ONE change, namely that I'll use { for < and } for > Okay?

    {a href="insert the url here"}type the text you want to show up here{/a}

    Class dismissed.

  8. Betty JoDee hit me with a spitball!

  9. Who died and made Betty Magdalen teacher. I'm telling Betty Debbie.
    And it was me, and it wasn't a spitball.
    But I was aiming at the greedy gussie who's name will not be mentioned, but her initials are BJD.

    Thank you Betty Magdalen. Are we dismissed now?

  10. Betty Mary is an apple polisher and is passing notes to the tall, blonde guy with the funny name on the back row. Betty Keira sneaks. Betty Magdalen is just showing off,
    Where's Betty Debbie? All she does is sleep....

  11. Do you remember the movie with Judy Holiday called Bells Are Ringing - it is about a telephone operator? It co-starred Dean Martin. Now I have an urge to watch it and will have to look on Netflix.

  12. Betty Debbie was skipping class to study over on Upcoming Reviews


    Now it's end of term and time for the Christmas hols.

  14. Thank you, Betty Magdalen--obviously with age comes wisdom.

  15. Let's try that again:

    Now it's end of term and time for the Christmas hols

  16. Ha ha, Betty JoDee. I'm old enough and smart enough to know you have stinky feet. So there.