Opinion / Public Speaking and Speechwriting

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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Brexit: So, Farewell Then EU

Blimey. It’s hard to grasp. Today the UK leaves the European Union. BREXIT. Nearly 50 years. Thanks, but no thanks. Enough is enough. I recall with shame my quite useless performance in a walk-on debate role at the Oxford Union back in 1975 when we had our first EU referendum, nay […]

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Remembering Alyson Bailes (2)

You’ll recall my tribute to the late Alyson Bailes, perhaps the brainiest diplomat of All Time. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography asked me to write their entry on her, and here it now is as posted today. There’s rightly a strong factual format to these ODNB entries, many of […]

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Remembering Lady Thatcher (Again)

To mark the tenth anniversary on 13 January of the unveiling of a portrait of Lady Thatcher, here again is my piece from then about that fine event. It was posted over at the late lamented PunditWire site that has vanished from the Internet * * * * * Several […]

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