Opinion / Public Speaking and Speechwriting

Last Night of The Proms

Back in 2014 I briefed readers on my interpreting adventures addressing the tumultuous mainly Polish audience for Last Night of The Proms in Krakow: This is a jolly annual gala occasion where Krakow Poles gather en masse lustily to sing Land of Hope and Glory and wave Union Flags and generally have […]

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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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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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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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British Accents

Can you spot a fake British accent? Can you spot a real one? Once back in Belgrade I was talking to a woman married to a Dutch diplomat. I told her that her English was absolutely superb. She told me that she WAS English. The point was that as she […]

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Translating Polish into English

I previously have looked at some subtle issues of translating good Polish into good English: Take Polish. It has a (for most of us) unpronounceable idiom meaning (variously) within arm’s reach or so close you can touch it: na wyciągnięcie ręki. In a metaphorical sense it denotes something very close, in a […]

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Brexit and Speeches

Here is a quite splendid and magisterial view of the rise and rise of Brexit as seen through many different speeches down the decades, written by John O’Sullivan. John has been tackling this question ever since the UK joined the EU. He has form: I first became a Brexiteer (or, […]

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