Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mind Your Language

An 'amazing' article by Hugo Williams in this week's Times Literary Supplement on the present state of our language, particularly regarding currently fashionable words and phrases. As he says, 'Inflation is the name of the game' so that something that was once good or all right is now 'amazing' or 'fantastic'; similarly a bad event tends to be 'traumatic'. Traditional British reticence and modesty have no place here.

He also bemoans the fate of prepositions, with trains now arriving 'into' stations; I've noticed that people 'protest' something - 'against' has disappeared and for some time now we've been 'bored of' rather than 'bored with' pedants complaining about such changes. It's obvious that American English is to blame for all these imports -I suppose you know when you've been fully colonised when you speak exactly the same language; but surely these overly positive and self-congratulatory phrases (I'm good)would once have been inimical to the British character. Modern American usage has even invaded our own history. Williams gives an example from The King's Speech - Bertie says 'Excuse me?' when Edward tells him he intends to marry Mrs Simpson when the response would have been 'What?' or 'I beg your pardon?' - didn't any of the actors comment on this?

My own candidate for the latest buzz term, not noted by Williams, is 'pop-up' (should it have a hyphen?) which is really taking off in 2011. Sadly, 'iconic' still rules as the most overused adjective, it pops up everywhere, although I think that 'rocket science' and 'the elephant in the room' are in decline. 'Did you see what I did there?'

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