Friday, April 25, 2014


If effervescence is defined (as per Wikipedia - yeah, I know, don't get me started - it is) as the escape of gas from an aqueous solution and the foaming/fizzing resulting from the escaping gas, then how on earth did that come to intimate vivacious or lively? Vivacious and lively are both positive attributes aren't they? Sure, I get that the term comes from champagne, which is supposed to be effervescent and that's a good thing, too.

Or is it? I mean. There are sayings like "All foam, no beer". That's not a compliment. And I suspect it's just a thing in the US, but champagne bears the stigma of being a 'sissy' drink. Hold over from Prohibition when our fore bearers were willing to risk blindness or death in the pursuit of some really crappy gin? Or some kind of racist commentary on a sometimes politically prickly relationship with champagne's country of origin?

Or is it the notion that anything bubbly and light-hearted must lack substance, whether we're talking about alcohol or about people? Come to think of it, has anyone ever heard of a male described as effervescent? Or is it an adjective reserved for women - one that sounds like it ought to be a compliment, but actually isn't because it focuses on her bubbly, and ultimately lacking in substance, personality?

How on earth does a word describing the escape of gas from an aqueous solution twist into something with potent and subtle sexist undertones? Language, no to mention the human race, is so twisted. Maybe I need a drink. Of bubbly.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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