Political deathmatch

24 August 2010 0
When they report politics in the news it sounds bloody amazing. It’s full of fights to the death, and hot water, and knockout punches, and things hanging by threads, and even tsars. It sounds like a film with effects by Ray Harryhausen. The reality of politics, though, is pretty dull, procedural and arcane. When you ...

No apologies for this post

24 August 2010 0
A week or two ago I read this report about US radio host Laura Schlessinger using the dreaded N-word live on air. It caused a bit of a furore over in the US. I find the response to things like this fascinating. Some people genuinely believe that some words are for some people and some ...

Coalitionspeak

05 August 2010 0
A great insight into the use of language in government on the Today programme earlier this week. Officials at the Department for Education have drawn up a memo with the title “The language of the new government”, which shows that we are leaving behind “delivery” and moving to “implementation”, casting aside the “state” in favour ...

The youth of today

03 June 2010 0
I’ve just stumbled across an article on WSJ.com from last year about how young people’s heavy use of digital media and lack of face-to-face interaction means they don’t ‘get’ non-verbal communication. The author is Mark Bauerlein, who also wrote a book called ‘The dumbest generation: How the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our ...

Danger words

26 May 2010 0
There’s a great piece by the Independent’s Robert Fisk on the Al Jazeera site about how journalists have adopted the dodgy euphemistic language of Whitehall and Washington. It’s got a slightly “and another thing” feel about it, but he’s spot on when he talks about the use of terms such as “peace process”, “a spike ...

Punctuation evolves, full stop.

23 May 2010 0
I feel compelled to comment on a discussion about punctuation on Friday’s Today programme. Tim Harford of Radio 4’s More or Less (which btw is awesome) was up against John Richards of the Apostrophe Protection Society (which, in its own way, is also kind of awesome, I suppose). It wasn’t the most illuminating discussion I’ve ...

Mummy, what does nude mean?

21 May 2010 0
I opened the paper this morning to find a mild furore going on about Michelle Obama in a cream-coloured dress. It all hinges on the fact that this colour is referred to by people who know about such things as “nude”. Problem is, it’s only really “nude” coloured if you’re a person who is that ...

Could this blog post change the world?

21 May 2010 0
In its coverage of the creation of a synthetic life form by a US scientist, The Daily Mail has helpfully provided an example of how a headline that contains a question should almost always be answered with ‘no’ (a rule set out by Andrew Marr in his book on journalism). “Scientist accused of playing God ...

Overpromise, underdeliver

14 May 2010 0
This article from the Guardian website yesterday makes me really annoyed. The headline says ‘Virtual reality used to transfer men’s minds into a woman’s body’. Now, look me in the eye and tell me that that doesn’t sound like the most awesomest news story ever. The reader’s appetite is further whetted by the standfirst: ‘Researchers ...