Language abuse

To coin a word or drop a clanger, that is the question

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On misusing or fumbling a word, is it better to hold your hands up to it or to compare yourself to the world’s greatest playwright? For Sarah Palin, apparently, the answer was easy. Her use of the entirely made up ‘refudiate’ was no error; indeed, inventing it was akin to something Shakespeare himself would have […]

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The campaign to ban the bull

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In our e-bulletin, we like to take a wild specimen of business-writing bull by the horns and tame it, so that it can be understood by all. The Ban the bull campaign was inspired by our gobbledygook amnesty back in 2009, which brought us the following offending sentence. And, despite the subject matter, there’s nothing […]

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‘S Dickens, innit

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He began by turning Shakespeare into txt spk. Now it’s Dickens for da yoof of today. Martin Baum, a father from Bournemouth, has rewritten Dickens in ‘yoof-speak’ in order – he claims – to get children interested in reading. ‘Kids today have invented their own language,’ says Baum.   ‘And I use this language to […]

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Cutting weasel words? I’ll get back to you

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We might all have certain choice words that we resist saying to our work colleagues or boss at times. But these are probably quite different from the list of taboo workplace words and phrases recently published in Forbes Magazine. The article asserts that phrases like ‘we’ll see’, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I’ll get back to […]

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Literacy is key to success at work

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Poor literacy at work is still a major problem, new research has found. The report, Literacy: State of the Nation, examined the UK’s literacy levels both in schools and in the workplace. While a quarter of young people see no connection between reading and success, the research results made the link clear. Two-thirds of men […]

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Texting turnaround on literacy

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There’s been another U-turn on the effects of texting on children’s literacy skills. The latest research, conducted by Dr Clare Wood at the British Academy, suggests that, far from damaging their ability to read and write, using ‘textisms’ like ‘LOL’ and ‘plz’ is actually a sign of sophisticated phonological development. Great news for the future […]

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The offence of bad language

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Finally, a House of Commons report that is a cause for celebration. This is Bad Language: the Use and Abuse of Official Language – the result of an investigation into the many ways in which politicians and civil servants may baffle and intimidate readers with their use of jargon-heavy, euphemism-filled waffle. By making such official […]

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Police wasting time

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The police often have a hand in giving out long sentences. Now they’re writing them. A potentially record-breaking 102-word single sentence appears in the Association of Chief Police Officers’ comeback to a government report on policing. Here’s the offending passage (note – do not attempt to read this before operating heavy machinery): “The promise of […]

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Is it a feathered sky-dwelling nest-builder? Is it an aerodynamic pan-destinational person carrier? No, it’s Sloganizer!

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Are you struggling to come up with a new nugget of corporate gobbledegook? Could your report benefit from some indecipherable doublespeak? Are you floundering from a lack of filler? Never fear. Sloganizer to the rescue! The new application for the iPhone brings the old paper Sloganizer right up-to-date – and right into your office. When […]

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Microsoft to improve 'buying experience at retail'. (That's 'shopping' to you and me.)

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Microsoft has announced it’s to open its own shops, in a clear bid to grab a slice of the Apple retail action. Apple trades on its image as the quintessence of cool: all innovative design and sleek lines. Microsoft may face an uphill battle in this respect, at least if its press release announcing the […]

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