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Showing posts with label pedantry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pedantry. Show all posts

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

For language pedants only …

The illiterate and unimaginative media continue to perpetrate their assault on the language, undeterred by my periodic rants. And why shouldn’t they – they get paid good money for what they do, and I don’t. All my pet hates survive and prosper, despite my efforts  but - a voice crying in the wilderness - I persist and here are some of my perennials -


enormity refers to the awfulness, the wickedness of an event, not its size.

ironical does not mean coincidental.

medieval has four syllables, not three – it’s meddy-eeval, not med-evil.

The last four letters of undoubtedly are edly, not ably – it is pronounced undowteddly, not undowtabbly.

mischievous is pronounced misscheevuss, not Miss Cheevyuss.

suspect is a noun, and adjective and a verb. When used as a noun or an adjective – e.g. arrest the suspect, or the suspect package -  the stress is on the first syllable: as an adjective or a verb – e.g. I suspect John Doe - the stress is on the second syllable.

refute means disprove by evidence, not reject. I reject your statement and I will refute it by the following facts.

fulsome means cloying, excessive, fawning, Describing a tribute, statement or speech as fulsome is an insult, not a term of approbation – it is a pejorative term. (The misuse of this word is a source of constant amusement to me, especially when it comes from Tory MPs toadying to their leaders. Many Tory MPs described Liam Fox’s statements as fulsome – they were spot on, but hadn’t meant to be …)

MEDIA clichés

News presenters have now adopted a style consisting of clichés strung together like beads on a wire, in the manner of sports presenters since time immemorial. One example, which I have complained of recently is the may be --- but formulation that now opens almost every analysis of political situations, with the occasional addition of the may be --- yet variation to add a spurious air of spontaneity to the tedium.

I say – the English language is infinitely varied, expressive and economical when necessary, but – or yet – you use it lazily and inaccurately.

Of course, a media presenter would have said - the English language may be infinitely varied, etc. – but

Bollocks. There’s no may be about it – it is infinitely varied, etc. The but and the yet, magnificent and precise wee words, are entirely sufficient on their ain. So there …