All's not what it seems

I could be swimmin' with da fishes for this

There are 139 posts tagged: language

Pope goes the weasel
28 May 2024

Old men are wont to say what they really think when it's least appropriate, and Pope Francis is no exception. During a closed door meeting with bishops, the aged god-botherer rejected the proposal that homosexuals should be eligible for the priesthood, going so far as to say that there was already too much of an air of frociaggine in the Catholic Church.

All the alumns
6 May 2024

I can't recall how I got here, but get here I did. The here in this case being pondering the word alumni. To the best of my knowledge, which isn't much, in Britain we used to refer to graduates of a university or college as just that, graduates; alumni seemed to be used more in the US. Perhaps that was just a skewed perception. Dunno. (shrug)

10 April 2024

Someone at the BBC thought it would be a good idea to ask whether British hatred of the American bastardisation of the English language is justified. Brave ol' Auntie beeb, I don't think I'd have the stomach for that fight.

Starmer drama
2 April 2024

J.K. Rowling hit out on social media on Monday, after the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act came into force north of the England/Scotland border.

29 February 2024

The latest episode of British institutional fragility comes courtesy of the British Board of Film Classification raising the age rating for Mary Poppins, from U to PG, because a derogatory term [hottentots] originally used by white Europeans about nomadic peoples in southern Africa is used to refer to soot-faced chimney-sweeps. (snowflake)

Tubby love
3 January 2024

Sam Smith is back on the scene and looking for lurve.

…and I am unanimous in that
2 January 2024

After a British woman ran her fiancé down following an alcohol-fuelled row, she was arrested and charged with murder. Fortunately, CCTV cameras caught the act, so the plod didn't have to take too much time away from picking their noses and masturbating back at the cop shop.

The total fucking irony
1 January 2024

BBC Radio 4 has an online grammar quiz dedicated to that most maligned of punctuation, the apostrophe. In prefacing the quiz, they have apparently used the BBC style guidelines for these examples – so blame them, not us. Well, okay then; but are they not part of the BBC? (confused)

Negative advice
21 December 2023

Forty-eight years after being wrongly convicted of murder, a man has been exonerated by an Oklahoman judge and freed. Glynn Simmons told reporters that the decision was a lesson in resilience and tenacity, going on to say: Don't let nobody tell you that it can't happen, because it really can.

5 December 2023

The death of a holidaymaker in The Bahamas, following a shark attack, introduced Royal Bahamas Police Force spokesperson Sgt Desiree Ferguson to the world stage.

Big Bird in space
14 November 2023

Not wishing to trivialise a tragedy, but this is a tempting thought nonetheless: What if Big Bird Exploded in the Challenger Disaster? It's a question posed as a delayed April Fool's joke by AlternateHistoryHub.

Includes all
13 November 2023

Protests against the war in Gaza held in London over the weekend ended in violence. No shit, who'd've thunk it? (rolleyes)

Where are the meatballs?
4 November 2023

At first I wasn't sure whether Annabel Rackham is telling us what it's like to go clubbing in a converted IKEA store, or asking us what's it like to go clubbing in a converted IKEA store? Because, if the latter, I can't help her; I don't know, I've never tried it. Fortunately, however, it turns out she has.

Wassup homie?
26 October 2023

In her upcoming memoir, Britney Spears says her then beau, Justin Timberlake, tried too hard to fit in with the black artists that he hung out with.

Vape pressure
16 October 2023

Warning of the dangers of childhood vaping, the BBC corrects an earlier version of its article:

It's better than Chinatown
10 October 2023

A man who drove his car into the Chinese consulate in San Francisco was shot dead, in what a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department described as an officer-involved shooting. This is secret police code for death by cop.

Latin lover
8 October 2023

Another dive into the BBC's culturally-insensitive cultural sensitivity; specifically its use of Latinx, and how those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

The "f-word"
28 September 2023

Writing for BBC Culture, Faran Krentcil's way-too-long, way-too-dull TL;DR about the return of Victoria's Secret something or other opens with:

23 September 2023

Three Canadian women have been accused of falsely claiming Inuit heritage to defraud indigenous organisations of benefits. It's a pretty shonky thing to do; some people simply have no morals. But it upset Aluki Kotierk, president of one such organisation, more than most.

Irreconcilable wall
20 September 2023

Following his sentencing to thirty years to life in prison for rape, Danny Masterson's wife has filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences between the pair. Yeah, that would be a prison wall; they're built to be irreconcilable, innit?

Taking the PiS
16 September 2023

A news item on a cash-for-visas scandal in Poland is most notable for introducing me to the country's governing Law and Justice party, PiS. Well, it made me laugh anyway. (embarrassed)

An incredible home no more?
13 September 2023

A Grade II-listed Georgian house in Windsor, which was home to UK TV and radio presenter Chris Evans, is on the market for a none-too-paltry £4M. This is presumably meant to be of some interest to the denizens of Warrington, Evans' birthplace, as Lois Dean describes to the Warrington Guardian's readers the Former incredible home of Warrington-born Chris Evans.

A Casual(ty) slip-up
12 September 2023

The broadcast of a repeated episode of BBC TV hospital drama Casualty caused controversy when a naughty word was subtitled before the watershed. I hasten to add, this was not broadcast by the BBC, but by UKTV. I have no idea how, or even if, the two companies are related.

Sheep to be shorn
2 September 2023

Jared Evitts is a BBC journalist. He used Google—not googled, for Google doesn't like being used as a verb, Jared—to get HMRC's contact number, and found that he'd been stung by a 'tweener. But he's not alone.

"Meaningful conversations"
3 August 2023

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and his wife are separating after eighteen years' marriage, following meaningful and difficult conversations. It's reassuring to know that this momentous change in their family's life wasn't decided upon after frivolous chit-chat. (rolleyes)

No sex please, we're rabbits
28 July 2023

Celebrity deaths seem to be quite the thing for closing the BBC's quiz of the week. This week's ended with the passing of Tony Bennett. But that's not what made it remarkable, at least for me, because I knew about Bennett's death already, albeit not that his stage name had been given to him by Bob Hope.

Low rent
26 July 2023

Rental properties are hard to come by in the UK. And apparently some landlords have taken this as an opportunity to cherry-pick applicants. For shame. (whatever)

Global trusted urinalism
4 July 2023

This is my opportunity to support the world's most trusted international news broadcaster™ as it reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour. Cute.

Not deep throat
15 June 2023

Even a jurnurlizzim skewl graduate can get it right on occasion. But there's more though; we've been doubly blessed with this headline! And, because of that, I'm even inclined to think it was intentional, rather than just a fluke.

Les lettres françaises
17 May 2023

At least sixty-five women who previously attended the same school in Melbourne, Australia, have received used condoms in the post.

Love thy neighbour
10 May 2023

A yee-haw in Louisiana shot at children running away from his home, unknowingly hitting a young teenaged girl in the back of the head. It's not clear what part of firing at shadows makes a hit unknowing; pure luck that the shot found its mark, perhaps? It makes it sound like he didn't intend to hit anyone; in which case, not firing into the shadows in the first place would've been a better approach. And people like this are allowed to own firearms in the USofA(rmaments).

Who could have foreseen it?
8 May 2023

A tourist boat in India left at least twenty-two of its around fifty passengers dead when it capsized at night. The double-decker boat was twofold over its capacity.

Emojional intelligence
3 April 2023

A couple of social media commenters have recently cast mild aspersions in passing on the use of emojis, dismissing them as the proclivity of old fart boomers. Perhaps not using emojis is a flex of sorts, dunno. I think I use them sparingly enough on this blog, and in text messages; usually for emphasis, or for what passes in my mind as humour.

Two clues
3 April 2023

The BBC's deadbeat droid is being coy about a racist slur used in a recent YouTube video; keeping the clues to a minimum.

Possession is nine-tenths…
1 March 2023

The BBC doesn't appear to have too much inclination for possessive terms. Perhaps the concept of ownership is too much for the comrades at the People's Republic of Portland Place. (shrug)

Written wrongly
26 February 2023

Who writes this shit? No, not this shit, here, I know who does that. Me.

20 February 2023

The late Roald Dahl's publisher, Puffin, hired sensitivity readers to flap‑flap‑flap, and rewrite his works for a modern audience; presumably one of emotionally-fragile adults. And, thus, tiny minds at Inclusive Minds have gone through his collected works, excluding the unwords and wrongthink that triggered their butthurt detectors.

Slik spelling
7 February 2023

While writing the previous entry to this pit of nonsense, I misspelled silk as slik. Strangely enough, the automatic spellchecker didn't pick this error up, it fell to the old-skool analogue version instead. So I figured that slik must be a real word. I wonder what it means? (thinking)

The Duchess of Memphis
23 January 2023

The UK's former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Thérèse Coffey, might not appreciate the importance of the Oxford comma, but we do, don't we kids? As in this example: the droid reporting on the memorial service for Lisa Marie Presley.

'P' for Paki(stani)…?
23 January 2023

Another unword requiring investigative sleuthing to demystify the message. Although in this case only further (skip-)reading was needed to gather the clues together.

No defence
16 January 2023

The announcement of the German defence minister's resignation is remarkable only for this observation on the post in question:

A warm, Ufizzi feeling(exclamation)
22 December 2022

The director of the Uffizi Galleries, Eike Schmidt, has laid down rules to his staff for email etiquette. These include no shouty writing; care with underlining; and a prohibition on excessive punctuation, particularly exclamation marks!!!!!

Doesn't add up
15 December 2022

I'm not sure whether the BBC's Australian correspondent, Tiffanie Turnbull, has a problem with the English language or mathematics. Updating a story on a recent fatal ambush shooting of police officers at a remote property in Queensland, she seems to have difficulty in either differentiating between shots sustained and fatalities, or the seemingly complex sum of 2+1=?

A game of two halves
11 December 2022

Adam Hurrey asks, on behalf of BBC Ideas and The Open University: why is football so full of cliches? Therein he briefly explores their background and use, and more artful foreign alternatives, as well as their value as a conversation-leveller.

Peruvian poverty
8 December 2022

The BBC home page has a link to a story on the ousting of Peru's president, Pedro Castillo. Except the link (right) refers to Peru president, although the article's headline does correct the error (top).

24 November 2022

Diane Bernard is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. She writes for the Washington Post and NPR, among other mainstream media outlets. So, I guess she could be considered to be progressive and right on.

Grazing grass
16 November 2022

nu3—or is that nu³? I really don't know (shrug)—claims that their exotically-priced, flavoured protein powder is whey from 100% grass-fed milk.

The eyes have it
13 October 2022

Thirteen-year-old Lowri Moore is campaigning for better representation for four-eyed gits, firstly in film and now in emojis. She's urging the Unicode Consortium to include options for adding spectacles to the plethora of shit that we have to wade through already.

Nurse! The screens!
28 September 2022

A dictionary definition of a word is usually accompanied by examples of it in use. One of the words in today's Waffle game is nurse, something that's easy enough to define and to put into context. Or so you'd think.

The lady killer
22 September 2022

María Belén Bernal vanished after visiting her husband at a police training school in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, where he was an instructor. Her body has been found, and he is on the run as the main suspect in her killing.

The new way of thinking
14 September 2022

Should I assume that Francis is a man? Or could Freeya have mistranslated Frances? Whatever, I have no idea why they think that my prior work is of any relevance to their comic—other than it offers a contact email address—so I thought that I'd get them to do some thinking of their own. (devil)

25 August 2022

There was a time when a TV or film production that contained graphic or upsetting scenes would be accompanied by an advisory content warning to that effect, so as to suitably prepare the unwary. And there's absolutely nothing wrong in that. Now, however, they're accompanied by trigger warnings.

Toilet twee
18 July 2022

It's always amused me how Americans ask where the bathroom is, or excuse themselves to take a bathroom break, when they have no intention of having a bath. Now, the BBC's health reporter, Philippa Roxbury, advises us how to examine one's stools for signs of bowel cancer in Bowel cancer: How to check your poo.

Negative drop
17 July 2022

I see this quite often, and not just in reference to films tanking in their second week at the box office. A -68% reduction is akin to a 68% increase, although admittedly it doesn't make much sense as such.

When you're down, you're down
12 July 2022

A British SAS unit in Afghanistan allegedly killed 54 detainees in suspicious circumstances. This occurred during a single six-month tour of duty, which shows they must really love their work. I only wish I had that level of passion and dedication for mine.

5 July 2022

I was idly curious as to the benefits of the Nginx web server over Apache, for no other reason than that Nginx comes as the default web server on Synology DiskStations, and Apache has to be installed separately. I install Apache because I'm vaguely familiar with it.

4 July 2022

Waffle is another of those five-letter word games. Six five-letter words are arranged in a 3×3 grid, and you have to move letters to solve the puzzle. One of the words in today's game is loose.

21 June 2022

I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

My nipples explode with delight!
17 June 2022

Newsflash to Sarah Jones: There's no such thing as the perfect cup of coffee. I only drink the filthy stuff when I need a jolt. And then it's solely for its pharmacological effects, not its organoleptic characteristics.

Cotton candy correspondents
14 June 2022

It kinda irritates me when news is reported with holes in it, to avoid causing offence to some cosseted group or another.

It's Istanbul, not Constantinople now
2 June 2022

Turkey—the country, not the bird or colossal failure—is rebranding itself to Türkiye. The purpose of this change is not to distract from President Erdogan's economic failings in the run-up to next year's elections. Oh no.

Les e-sports
31 May 2022

Académie française, the custodian of the French language, has advised government officials to use French equivalents in place of English terms, when referring to video gaming. It's good to know that someone's on top of this shit. (thumbup)

Assault with a deadly weapon
29 May 2022

In the wake of recent mass-shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, both of which involved the deadly use of semi-automatic weapons, US Vice-President Kamala Harris has denounced access to such firearms within the USofA(rmaments), stating: An assault weapon is a weapon of war.

Foetal accident
10 May 2022

More controversy over five-letter words in Wordle. On 9th May, some users found that the answer was FETUS. The NYT claimed that this was coincidental. Nevertheless, the bonkers brigade thought that it was a deliberate attempt to comment on the US abortion debate.

Spelling Bee
27 April 2022

Spelling Bee is an online word game, hosted by the New York Times. You're given seven letters, arranged in a honeycomb pattern—ho ho ho—from which to make words. The only stipulations are that each must be on the list of accepted words; must be at least four letters long; and must contain the letter in the centre.

Less smart phones
21 March 2022

As smartphones are taking over more of our lives, some droids are rebelling and breaking free. An increasing number of people are eschewing smartphones for old skool mobile phones, dubbed dumbphones. And bloody good for them, says I.

The ol' one-three
20 March 2022

A single day passes, and Canada's once again on the receiving end of the BBC's ol' one-three. This time, it's droidy stepping up to show the Canadians what's what.

19 March 2022

Yes, I know that I undertook not to rag on the BBC's grammatical incompetence, but it's a slow news day. If you're trying avoid information overload on the BBC's current obsession, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, that is.

15 March 2022

Vaccination was rarely discussed widely online before the pandemic. It's just not one of those subjects for most people.

Factoid: not trivial
14 March 2022

I really have no idea how this came to pass, but a little while ago I was musing on the use of factoid to describe a trivial piece of information. Or is it an item of misinformation? It turns out that the latter is the original definition, and the former is a USAsian adaptation. Hence the confusion: one word, two meanings…how typical of the English language.

Mega or mega-?
9 March 2022

Mega-: according to the dictionary definition, it means large, very large, or huge. But, colloquially, it extends to mean impressively large; awe-inspiring. Thus we have megalodon, an impressively large lodon; megalith, an impressively large lith; and megalomania, an impressively large lomania.

Gay, gay, gay
3 March 2022

This post marks the three ages of gay:

17 February 2022

After buying Wordle from its developer, the New York Times sought to reassure fans that the gameplay will remain unchanged.

The NYT denied any changes to gameplay, but it did admit that it was in the process of removing "offensive words" which included whore, slave and wench from both the list of acceptable guesses and the answers.

Jane Wakefield, technology reporter, BBC News

Do you offer discounts too?
15 February 2022

On behalf of Obstetrics and Gynecology Reports, Gretta Collins offers Disocunts for the new issue. Given the journal's subject matter, the typo is cruelly apt.

My humps
8 February 2022

No, not the bloody awful Black Eyed Peas number.

28 January 2022

Idly looking up the definition of medium, as is my wont, the macOS dictionary helpfully offered this little gem: the song soon discovers a happy medium between thrash and catchy pop.

I'm sarcastic, therefore I'm brainy
12 January 2022

According to David Robson, writing for BBC Family Tree, a teenager's sarcasm reflects their intellect. Fortunately for me, my sarcastic teen, Emily, doesn't read the BBC online.

The great escape
7 January 2022

The BBC might like to consider pulling their home page text from the same source as their article headlines. That way, they would only have to correct any errors once. Of course, BBC editorial competence being what it is, the downside is that they could have the same error twice.

What's in a Wordl?
5 January 2022

I had never heard of the online game, Wordle, until I read today that it will never become attention grabbing or advert laden, which is reassuring.

Frohes Neues Jahr!
2 January 2022

While those lovable French set cars alight, the Germans take an altogether more sedate approach to welcoming in the new year. I have it on good authority that they like nothing more than throwing fireworks at each other in the street. Consequently, news that there has only been one death in Germany seems like a stroke of good fortune; except to the victim's family, that is.

Live. Die. Repeat. Or not.
16 December 2021

It's a sad story. So I feel bad that my first thought, when spotting the link on the BBC home page, was puzzlement as to how one Indian housewife repeatedly kills herself.

'X' for Latina
13 December 2021

For some inexplicable reason, there's a remake of West Side Story, for anyone who considers the 1961 classic to be somehow inadequate. I wasn't aware that this was something that the world had been clamouring for. Neither were cinema audiences, it seems, who stayed away in droves when it debuted last weekend: Steven Spielberg's effort hasn't performed sensationally at the box office.

Leper colony
12 December 2021

In the current dinky butthurt climate, is it no longer acceptable to refer to leprosy sufferers as lepers, and a colony of them as a leper colony? Or is this just the BBC's usual low-intellect shenanigans? (thinking)

The ol' one-two
1 December 2021

Okay, so I promised to never again question the BBC's disdain for national adjectives, and I think that I've been pretty good of late. That's not to say the BBC's editorial staff haven't transgressed, they have. But I've been the bigger person, looked the other way, and moved on.

All of you
24 November 2021

Writing for BBC Worklife, Bryan Lufkin informs us as to Why more people are saying 'y'all'. For those of you who didn't know that they were, apparently they are. So there's something new that you've learned, and we've barely started!

1 November 2021

Another of those I know how it is moments.

27 October 2021

While looking up the possessive form of James, I came across this example at GrammarHow.

D1 R6 D1 S6
26 October 2021

In an otherwise dull and TLDR article, on the discovery of a planet candidate outside our own galaxy, one thing struck me. The name of one of the researchers, Dr Rosanne Di Stefano, is remarkable for its periodicity: D1 R6 D1 S6.

Lost in translation
5 October 2021

Squid Game is predicted to become Netflix's most watched original series. Filmed and set in South Korea, it's dubbed/subtitled into English. But, all is not what it may seem.

From India with love?
4 October 2021

Daizy Priscilla contacted me, inviting me to submit my blahblah to her yadayada. None of it stood out of the ordinary, except she's another lowlife at the gutter publishing house that is Remedy Publications LLC. Daizy must be besties with Alyssa, who works out of the same office address.

Learnons-nous Franglais avec BoJo
22 September 2021

In the wake of French outcry over the Aukus military pact between Australia; the UK; and the US, Boris Johnson demonstrated linguistic skills that match his capacity for tact and diplomacy. Speaking from Washington, en Franglais, he had this message for Emanuel Macron:

What's in a word?
30 August 2021

Garbage-tier click-bait site, BuzzFeed, is running out of venture capital and heading towards financial collapse. In an effort to keep afloat, it's trying to reinvigorate itself through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

23 August 2021

You know how sometimes you know something to be true, so much so that when you find it to be otherwise it's difficult to believe? For years I've known that WASP is an acronym for wealthy, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Except, it's not.

13 August 2021

After a mass shooting in Plymouth in which five people were killed by a man who described himself as being beaten down and defeated by life, the UK general population has been introduced to an emerging subclass of society, the incel.

Nun the wiser
12 August 2021

It's just occurred to me that Merkans can spell prey, but not grey.

A glimmer of hope?
11 August 2021

I have, in the past, highlighted the BBC's inability to use proper national adjectives, but have since ceased as I walk the path to being a better person. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to point it out when they at last get it right.

Take me home, racist roads
10 August 2021

Thus opens Tara McKelvey's report on Biden's unlikely plan to use roads to fight racism. Note the quotes that she uses around the word racist. Could it be that she's using someone else's description, but it's one that she herself is sceptical about? If so, good for her, she might just be a critical thinker, and therefore a cut above the average BBC News mouth-breather.

6 August 2021

I was musing on people turning non-verbs into verbs.

Yours competently
4 August 2021

In The coded language that holds women back at work, Christine Ro explores words keeping women down, or something like that. It's a fairly typical fluff piece for BBC Equality Matters. One that I don't doubt was previously published elsewhere, and which I didn't find sufficiently interesting to finish reading. But I did skip-read this far:

The other F-bomb
2 August 2021

Matt Damon will no longer refer to homosexuals as faggots,* so as not to upset his daughter. He'll still gaily gather sticks into faggots of firewood though…until she finds something wrong with that too.

18 June 2021

Oh, the irony! The BBC reports that Insider Voice, a US news website, has referred to Leicester Tigers' hooker, Tom Young, as a prostitute. Despite having been advised of the error, the headline hadn't been corrected a week later.

A hard habit to brake
17 June 2021

In my drive to be a better person, by not picking on the BBC's adjectival ineptitude, should I extend that to homophones?

I give up!
26 May 2021

The BBC's journalists and editors really do not like national adjectives. Picking apart their linguistic shortcomings is like painting the Forth Bridge; an unending and thankless task. It doesn't achieve anything and, after a while, I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, irritating and boring.

16 May 2021

Beyond subsistence, what's the point of quinoa in a modern diet? It doesn't taste of anything, let alone anything interesting, and you can't eat it with a fork. If flavours were colours, it would be something inoffensive and dull, like beige or pale-to-mid grey. Yet restaurants, bistros, and supermarkets insist on including it in salads, where all that it adds is bulk.

The new Thinkpol in training
5 May 2021

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, head teacher at Anderton Park primary school, is instilling her pupils with a nice little Orwellian ethic. Children have been taught to call out sexist language and even to identify sexist stereotypes in books and worksheets. And the programming training starts at the age of three years in the nursery school.

Able was I
6 April 2021

Sara Nović, writing on behalf of BBC Equality Matters, admonishes you on The harmful ableist language you unknowingly use. You heartless bastard! (mad)

Curfew quarrel
25 March 2021

Following the abduction of Sarah Everard in south London, police officers working on the case in the area advised women not to go out alone and to be careful; which doesn't seem too unreasonable, since the perpetrator was still at large at the time. But Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb's response in the House of Lords upset a number of people, and was widely ridiculed:

Changing lanes
11 March 2021

Only one day after accepting the role of translating Amanda Gorman's poem The Hill We Climb into Dutch, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld has stepped down over an outcry that they're not black. This is despite the fact that Gorman chose Rijneveld herself.

The speed of film
4 March 2021

How fast is a film? I'm sure that's a question you've never thought of before. And neither had I until today, when I read, courtesy of the BBC's Justin Harper, that an anime called Demon Slayer:

If you can't get it right, do it wrong
11 February 2021

I don't know whether to file this under idiot cheats or idiot editors, so I'll tag it with both.

The name game
15 January 2021

Mithering on behalf of BBC Worklife, Zulekha Nathoo explains Why getting a name right matters. If you can't be bothered to read the whole article, you're not alone. It's just another whinge about mispronunciation of names, and how it's your fault if you struggle with someone's name.

14 January 2021

This YouTube clip from the BBC's QI panel show is entitled What Begins With A, Has Six Cs and No Bs?

Excitable BBC 'journalist' in overstating the case shock!
7 November 2020

According to Zoe Kleinman, the T&C for several popular apps are longer than Harry Potter, which sounds daunting. The reality, as is so often the case, is more prosaic.

Be careful what you (don't) wish for
21 October 2020

During protests against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, several demonstrators have been killed instead by military brutality, in what Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, termed an unfortunate shooting incident.

A dog with no name
16 July 2020

RAF Scampton—the home of 617 Squadron, The Dambusters—has replaced the gravestone of the squadron's mascot, a black Labrador named Nigger, who died on the night of the famous raid on the Ruhr dams in 1943. Squadron Leader Guy Gibson, whose dog he was, named him because, at the time, nigger was not a derogatory reference, rather simply the name for a shade of black.

And speaking of vacuous
14 June 2020

I received a sampler of a masculine fragrance called Fusion D'Issey by Issey Miyake. According to the packaging, it's The Scent Of Nature In Fusion. Enlightened? No? Then try this:

Random whinge
20 February 2019

Because it's not really a rant.

Must try harder
18 November 2018

In yet another BBC fluff piece, Alex Rawlings lists ten personality traits that are identified in foreign languages that cannot be named in English. He, or she, didn't try very hard.

The bleedin' obvious (redux)
13 November 2018

In a tragic story of US police shooting to death yet another black man, this time a security guard who had apprehended a real felon, the local chief of police, Dan Delaney, observed that one of his officers was involved in an officer-involved shooting. Involving one of his officers, presumably.

The bleedin' obvious
17 April 2018

A report by the BBC of the hunt for a woman suspected of at least two murders is given the headline Manhunt for woman who 'murdered victim and stole her identity'.

Policemen talking bollocks
30 May 2017

It's a strange thing, but when policemen talk to the press, they use a special bollocks language. Such as when a siege in Queensland, Australia, ended after the suspect shot at police and was killed when they returned fire. According to Queensland Police's Assistant Commissioner Tony Wright:

Seeing double
21 September 2016

Another day, another black man killed by US police. It's so every day that it doesn't bear comment. But I am angry at the abuse of the English language by a woman claiming to be Keith Lamont Scott's sister: He didn't have no gun, and He wasn't messing with nobody.

The depths of uncool?
1 August 2014

Writing for BBC News Magazine, Jon Kelly explains how wearing sunglasses indoors is the height of uncool. I cannot say I disagree in the slightest. People who wear sunglasses indoors look like pillocks.

! or !!!!!!?
21 August 2013

On the death of Elmore Leonard, who apparently deplored the use of exclamation marks to the point that he devised a rule to limit their use, BBC News Magazine asks whether we use too many of them. And, in defence of bangorrheaics everywhere, the BBC shows how they can add intonation to otherwise bland text:

Shitstorm in a teacup
2 July 2013

The English language has been enriched by many German words, such as zeitgeist; schadenfreude; and, the all-time classic, blitzkrieg. So it's only fair that we return the favour.

27 June 2013

Hoji Takahashi, 71, is seeking 1.4 million yen ($14,300; £9,300) in damages from Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, for mental distress resulting from excessive use of loanwords borrowed from English in their news and entertainment programmes. These include such commonly used English words as toraburu, trouble; risuku, risk; shisutemu, system; kompulaianse, compliance; kolaborasion, collaboration; dejitaru, digital; and taoru, towel.

U iz stoopid
24 June 2013

While reading about thoracotomy, as you do, I came across this question on Yahoo! Answers: How do doctors get passed the rib cage during surgery? Which seems pretty reasonable, despite the misspelling.

3 May 2013

On his retirement as chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, John Simpson offered insight into the etymology of some English words and phrases. Including pom.

9 March 2013

I finally got around to watching Wanted. It's a reasonably good film, fun and exciting with a novel turn. But it's badly let down by a terrible last line from the antagonist, as he realises that he's been set up for assassination: Oh, fuck!

Hubris: how gay!
9 November 2012

In a perhaps unguarded moment during a light-hearted radio interview, New Zealand's prime minister John Key referred to a presenter wearing a gay red top. This outraged some who construed it as a slur against the homosexual community. Key later defended himself, stating that he used the word gay to mean weird rather than as a deliberate offence; the Oxford English Dictionary notes its use in this manner to mean foolish, stupid, or unimpressive.

Saudi Arabia is not feeling .gay
15 August 2012

Saudi Arabia has objected to several new global top level domains (gTLD), including .gay, on the basis that they may offend, or promote practices that are counter to their religion. The poofs, on the other hand, counter that .gay is needed for support.

Oooops! Well, it could happen to anyone!
6 June 2012

So, imagine that your plane crashes into a busy city suburb, killing all 153 people on board, and an unknown number on the ground. How would you describe this?

No more Sony Ericsson
27 October 2011

But, fear not, it is solely because Sony has bought out its partner.

29 October 2010

I can't recall how I came across herstory, but it made me laugh anyway. As a politically-correct term for history viewed through a feminist lens, or a demasculinisation of history, it's nonsensical. It seems to be predicated on the notion that history is somehow innately masculine—because it's got his in it, innit?

What the *%$# happened to my *%$#?
11 November 2008

You know the old saying, call a spade a spade? Well, sometimes you can't, because some people out there on the internet really shouldn't be out there on the internet; people who're easily and righteously offended—either for themselves, or on behalf of others—when their fragility detectors cause the hairs on their necks to stand on end. The dinky butthurts who, rather than turning the other cheek; (wo)manning up; and moving on, will have a pissy fit instead.

Sorry I'm out of the office, but in Welsh
1 November 2008

All official road signs in Wales are bilingual. So, when Swansea Council needed a translation of a road sign, they sent an email to their in-house translation department. The reply was then dutifully written on the sign. Except that the reply was actually an out of office message, in Welsh!

Sequel, the first
27 December 2004

Structured Query Language, or SQL, is the programming language used to interrogate relational databases. But how does one pronounced SQL when discussing it?

10 November 2003

I was reading a message from a lawyer this morning. It wasn't a legal document as such, just an email to update a domain name registration. And it got me thinking…who, other than a lawyer, would use a word like pursuant in everyday communication?

Translation translation
1 September 2003

I used Google to automatically translate an Italian Yahoo site and it came up with this: