Terry Pratchett on Doctor Who

06 May 2010 0
As I’ve said here before, it’s tough being a Doctor Who fan. It’s such a hit and miss show. I love it because it’s so full of daft yet brilliant ideas, but it does have a tendency towards stupidity, and I can understand why some newcomers and casual viewers can’t be bothered with it. Recently ...

Why politicians can’t say anything sensible

05 May 2010 0
The furore over ‘bigotgate’ annoyed me for several reasons. To me, the fact that a politician said something spiteful and ill-considered behind someone’s back is a non-story. Clearly it wasn’t Brown’s considered opinion that Gillian Duffy was ‘bigoted’, he was just letting of steam and exaggerating to make his point (his point being: Grr I’m ...

Greece fears batter markets again

30 Apr 2010 0
This is one of those headlines where almost every word could be a noun or a verb. I initially read this as “Greece is afraid of the markets for batter. Again.” I was like, do people trade in batter? Does this have something to do with declining fish stocks? Headlinese is terrible for this sort ...

Go Pullman. Go Pullman.

28 Apr 2010 0
Philip Pullman defends his new book ‘The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ’ from someone who says the title is “offensive”. The best minute and a half of video I’ve watched in a while.

Deep volcanic hydration?

22 Apr 2010 0
Volvic are doing their bit to make the world a stupider place by re-running their ‘14-day challenge‘ TV ad. It’s an irritating ad in lots of ways – it’s one of those ones that has a ‘genuine’ member of the public showing their ‘genuine’ enthusiasm for the product (which the gimp in question refers to ...

Wise words

14 Apr 2010 0
I spoke at an event this week about how to write clearly. To illustrate my points I used a few quotes, which, now that I’ve gathered them, I thought I’d share here: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as ...

Hard-working families

12 Apr 2010 0
The Guardian’s Mind Your Language column, written by the editors of its style guide, now has its own blog, which has made it straight on to my list of stuff I like. In the inaugural post, David Walsh asks readers to pick their least favourite cliches from politicians’ electionspeak. One of his own pet hates is “hard-working families”. ...

Native Americans?

11 Apr 2010 0
I recently read a fantastic book called 1491 by Charles Mann, which is all about the Americas before Columbus. The book isn’t just about the history, it’s about the history of the history, if you like. It’s about how popular views of what the continent was like before Europeans arrived, have changed over time. I ...

Why do foreigners make their languages so hard?

03 Apr 2010 0
On April 1st, the National Centre for Languages announced “high level negotiations with foreign governments” to get them to simplify their languages for Brits. The French are looking at merging ‘le’ and ‘la’, and a representative of the Goethe Institut reveals details of “an ambitious five-year plan to remove case endings from German nouns”. Have ...