It is customary at New Year to reflect on important events in the preceding 12 months, and in particular to mark the passing of notable public figures during the year.
Many journalists and commentators have already done that, so I thought it also worth noting instead some of the words and phrases which died during 2016. Continue reading
I have previously considered the cliché move the goalposts but what about the oft-demanded level playing field? We all know what is meant by the phrase, but I cannot think of a sport where a sloping playing field would disadvantage one team.
Take football. If your team finds itself on a playing field with a distinct slope towards their goal, you can relax in the knowledge that the second half will redress the imbalance when the teams change ends. In any case, surely it would have to be a really significant deviation from the horizontal to make a difference?
According to Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel,
“As Boris was growing up whenever anyone asked him what he wanted to be, he would answer: ‘World King'”
Well, if I were World King, the following would definitely be made illegal straight away:
- Starting a sentence with “So …”. Example Q: “What do you do for a living?” A: “So I’m in marketing.”
- Using the phrase “bidduh kit”. Example “This potato peeler is a great bidduh kit.”
- Saying “yummy” or “scrummy” after the age of 5.
As Boris is more likely to get the job, perhaps I should write and suggest these new laws to him.
One of my hobby horses is the use of archaic terminology. (See what I did there?) In particular, units of measurement – like ‘miles per gallon’ when we buy fuel in litres.
A word that I have begun to notice Continue reading
North American manglers of the English language have long since adopted the phrase ‘different than’ but I notice that more and more speakers of British English are saying ‘different to’.
When comparing things, we are deciding if they differ from each other. Not to or than each other.
In the interests of sexual equality the word ‘actress’ has been phased out. One word for one profession. But why didn’t we phase out ‘actor’ instead?
I think it’s now time to purge the English language of other gender distinguishing words. Let’s stop saying ‘he’ and ‘she’. Let’s just choose one and dump the other. ‘He gave birth’ sounds strange now, but at one time, so did ‘She is an actor’.
The apocalyptic natural disaster in Japan has been compounded by the enormity of the sinister nuclear threat from the crippled power plant at Fukushima Daiichi.
These appalling events, still unfolding, gave rise to an entirely trivial observation on my part about nomenclature. They measure radiation dose in sieverts, temperature in degrees, length in metres, power in watts, and so on.
The seismic energy released by an earthquake, however, would be expressed for example: ‘magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale’. Well, you wouldn’t say ‘a distance of 1500 on the metre scale’ or ‘the temperature reached 22 degrees on the Celsius scale’. So when it comes to earthquakes, Why don’t they just say ‘9.0 richters’?
Liverpool is holding its first official Pride festival. So anybody who feels pride is welcome to attend, I suppose. Er, not really. Pride in what? OK we all know. There’s no need to spell it out. It’s the Liverpool **** Pride Festival. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we? Not proud enough to give it a name, it seems. Which is a shame.
The omission of controversial words is a modern trend. It started with the War on ******* Terrorism of course. We became used to that one almost overnight.
I can see it developing still further. How about the French government’s proposals to ban the **** ****? Or the British government’s new ***** plan? Talking of government, all right minded people agree that there should be more ******* and ***** MPs in the House of Commons. Those that don’t can ***** with a ******!
What’s the definition of ‘organic’? Ten years ago it meant shrivelled spotty vegetables you wouldn’t choose to buy even if they were the last ones in the shop. Not least because they were 50% more expensive.
Now everything in the supermarket has its ‘organic’ alternative. Still more expensive, but within range of those people who are not on a tight budget and are keen to save the planet whilst eating healthy food.
But who defines what is organic and what is not? Shoppers who assume it means food grown without pesticides or fertilizers need to do a bit of checking if they are not to be misled.
Here’s an example: Morrison’s Organic Corn Flakes. On the box it says
Organic standards prohibit the use of genetically modified ingredients and seek to avoid routine use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers.
Such weasely phraseology would make a home-flipping MP blush.
It looks like Manchester’s Urbis gallery might become the home of a National Football Museum instead.
Good. Not that I have any appreciation of the game. I watch a football match on TV with the same level of comprehension as our cat. We can both see coloured shapes moving around on the screen but that’s about it. But Urbis has been a white elephant from the start. Continue reading