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Laura was not exactly fat but she had that chubby rotundity and dumpiness that sometimes afflicts adolescent girls.

The party was staying in a hostel and the weather was foul. As supper-time approached, Laura, breathless, wet and dishevelled, burst into the room:

"I'm ravishing!" she gasped.

Clearly Laura's self-assess-ment could not be taken at face value,and we laughed, but what had she meant? Was her obvious mistake a simple malapropism? Some linguistic detective work elicited the realisation that Laura knew the word "ravenous", was also familiar with "famished" and had unwittingly constructed a portmanteau word which, unfortunately, had another meaning altogether.

Send your soundbite to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171 782 3200

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