Opinion / Writing and Language

Censored by Twitter

My first post here in a while. We’re planning to move house after some 13 years here, and then it was busy again and the weeks flit by. Have you heard of Benford’s Law? Me neither. It turns out that it’s a way of exploring ‘unfabricated’ numbers. The gist of […]

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Passive Aggression, Full Stop

OMG whatever next snowflake teenagers are being triggered by FULL STOPS. Say (who else?) linguists: The debate was reignited after writer Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted: ‘Older people – do you realise that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an […]

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The Queen’s Speeches

Following the Channel 5 programme on the public words of Diana, Princess of Wales, the companion programme on the speeches and statements of HM The Queen has appeared. See it here on the Channel 5 catch-up for a few more days (after you’ve picked your way through all sorts of […]

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Duda Wins – Now What?

+ + + UPDATE + + + Here is Jarosław Kaczyński talking about the election victory and what (he think) needs to happen to change the Polish media scene Dust off Google Translate if for some reason your Polish is a bit rusty, and away you go. * * * […]

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Dead Cats Matter

This piece was first posted at the now defunct US website PunditWire. I had a lot of good stuff there, now lost to civilisation. So I’ll repost updated versions of some of my pieces here, to let them linger on the Internet a while longer. This one on ‘framing’ is […]

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Diana’s Own Words

Channel 5 has shown a rather good programme about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales as revealed by her public speeches and interviews. Here is the link – it no doubt will fade away from the Internet soon. I was interviewed for this and for a companion programme on […]

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Meghan and Harry Can’t Write

Here is Sky News sharing with a startled world the full text of a letter or announcement sent by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to four UK newspapers. Oh dear. Let’s while away the #COVID19 emptiness by going through it in all its ineptitude. Wait … is it a […]

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English Pluralz: S and Z

Foreigners! Looking to improve your English at a stroke? Get right the difference between the -S and -Z sounds. This does not apply only to words ending in -s (usually plural nouns or present tense verbs), but that’s a good place to start to grasp the distinction. Thus. The sounds […]

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Correct Punctuation

School-children may get asked grammar questions like this: Is this punctuated correctly? “Aslam’s home was broken into by thieves. When, he was away in Lahore on business” On the whole, not! It depends what you mean by ‘correctly’, and that depends on what EXACTLY you want to say. Punctuation is about […]

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Quitting Quora

I previously have mentioned my presence on Quora. I have posted all sorts of things there, one reason why this very blog is now anaemic. But enough is enough. I have (I think) set in motion the deletion of my Quora account and all my now sprawling Quora content. Quora […]

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