In this Issue
Letters to the Editor
Write to Us
Spread the Word
Back Issues

Food and Cooking in
American and British

What we talk about
when we talk about
success and failure

Focus on Language

Spoken discourse

Discourse markers
oh, well and like
UK version  US version

New word of the month
Are you still looking
for your Valentine?

Top Tips for the CD-ROMs
Making sense of
spoken language


New word of the month
by Kerry Maxwell

love bleeper noun [C] /lv blip/
(also love beeper, lovegety)
a programmable electronic device used to locate a potential romantic partner, which beeps and flashes when near to a device programmed with similar information about likes and interests

'Supermarkets have long been known as one of the most popular places for single people to go out looking for a partner Now Sainsbury's is helping its customers by giving them a chance to leave the shop with more than they bargained for with the not-so-subtle use of love bleepers.'
The Guardian, 6th November 1999)

'... when you're brought together through the Lovegety, you're more at ease because you already have something in common. You already have something to talk about. I've never met anyone that was weird or scary, ...'
(Wired News, 11th June 1998)

February brings us cold weather, dark nights, and Valentine's day — that one day when many of us enjoy a bit of fun expressing our fondness for those important people in our lives, either openly or anonymously! If you're still in search of a recipient for this year's Valentine's card, the love bleeper may be just the thing for you

The love bleeper was first marketed in Japan in 1998, manufactured by the makers of the tamagotchi, a hand-held virtual pet which two years earlier had been a huge success worldwide. The basic love bleeper is a small oval device with three buttons that the user can set according to which activity they are interested in pursuing with a potential romantic partner, be it 'talk', 'karaoke' or 'get2' (meaning get to (it)!). Once the device has been set up, it searches for a love bleeper holder of the opposite sex within a five-metre radius. If it locates someone holding a device with the same settings, it beeps and flashes so that the two can find each other. If there is a love bleeper holder in the vicinity with different settings, a light flashes and the device makes a different noise, indicating that this is a less suitable 'match'.

The love bleeper, often also referred to as a love beeper, is alternatively known as the Lovegety (plural form Lovegeties), based on the Japanese trade name for the product. Lovegety is a transliteration of the English get love. The Lovegety, hugely successful after it was first released in Japan, was subsequently enhanced to provide an expanded coverage area of one hundred metres, and a wider selection of modes, including activities such as 'drink', 'dinner' and 'movie'.

In November 1999 the Guardian newspaper featured a story about love bleepers being given away free in Sainsbury's stores, supermarkets allegedly being one of the most popular places for single people to search for potential partners. In fact supermarkets have provided another new concept related to the quest for romance: the practice of trolleyology. A trolleyologist is someone who examines the contents of another person's shopping trolley in order to draw conclusions about that person's personality, behaviour or outlook on life. A common application of trolleyology is in the evaluation of potential romantic partners based on their culinary and household habits, or the portrayal of a particular image to potential partners by judicious selection of the contents of your trolley!

In the five years since the love bleeper was first marketed, the Internet has further established itself as a core feature of everyday life, accessible to everyone, either at home, in the office or even through their mobile phones. Dedicated dating sites, chat rooms and instant messaging have provided a host of possibilities for those who are searching for romance or just online companionship. In 2004, the concept of social networking, is no longer primarily associated with the situation of making new acquaintances whilst clutching a glass of wine at a dinner party. This term, along with its derivatives social network and social networker, currently relates mainly to Internet sites which help users meet like-minded people with similar interests and backgrounds.

Paradoxically, one of the buzz words of 2003 in the quest for romance related to 'face-to-face' rather than virtual contact: speed-dating, with derivatives speed dater and speed-date. Speed-dating is a craze that has spread rapidly through Britain and the United States, and though promoted through Internet sites, requires those in search of love to attend an organised event in person. Speed daters have a prescribed number of minutes to chat to a series of potential partners, indicating at the end of the session whether they wish to exchange contact details with any of these individuals.

If all of these methods of finding the person of your dreams leave you cold, or if indeed you are not intending to purchase a Valentine's card this year, you could be described as a quirkyalone. This term refers to someone who is single and would like a partner, but prefers to wait for the right person to come along rather than dating indiscriminately or fervently sifting through a large pool of potential partners. The word quirkyalone was coined in 1999 by American author Sasha Cagen, whose book of the same name (Quirkyalone, Harper SanFrancisco, 2004) is shortly to be released. So if Valentine's day doesn't appeal to you, maybe you might subscribe to the alternative that Cagen has promoted, which she calls 'International Quirkyalone Day':

'International Quirkyalone Day is a do-it-yourself celebration of romance, friendship, and independent spirit. There are no giant teddy bears, Hallmark cards or gigantic red boxes of chocolate, just honest love and displays of affection '

For more information about new and topical words and phrases, read Kerry's Word of the Week articles on the MED Resource Site.