The Judge RANTS!
Crimes Against Language (#1 in an interminable series)
(Yes, I know: two updates in one day. But it has been
'busy, busy' these past two weeks).
I worry about the BBC. I worry about the state of education in this
country. These two concerns come together in a couple of examples of
the misuse of (or even the casual disregard for) language.
All right, I'll admit that it comes a bit close to home for me.
Part of my job involves scrutinising letters which go out from our
office for errors in form, content and language. I see enough avoidable
screw-ups there to make me despair - and this from people who, almost
without exception, are intelligent and articulate, even the managers.
One would have hoped that any organisation which concerns itself
with the dissemination of information would at least take all proper
care to ensure that the communication would be correct. But, to
take just two examples from recent weeks, this doesn't seem to be a
concern to the BBC, because both of these cases come from their
teletext service CEEFAX.
The more recent referred to a botched police investigation into a
murder case. Some public citizen got up to complain of the weakness of
the conduct of the inquiries. Whoever he was (I forget now), I'm sure
he wasn't as illiterate as the BBC made him out to be when he was
quoted as having opined that the police's "expertise have not been
This are getting ridiculous; since when have 'expertise' been
plural? Ever since people started thinking that anything which sound
like it end in an 's' are a plural, I suppose, in the same way that
people don't seem to be able to handle apostrophes anymore (see here
for a good idea about how to make the point on that question).
But, to be fair, it can sometimes be entertaining when one of these
failures results in the creation of what is almost a parallel universe.
I saw (again on CEEFAX) a quote from a football manager whose
team had just lost a crucial game. "I am absolutely gutted. I am
Well, at least he'll be able to see where he's going....
Awww, Diddums! Is De Lickle Wich Boy Sad, Den?
I think the phrase I'm looking for rhymes with "Clucking bell!"...
I read that a psychotherapist in America says that we groundlings
should show sympathy for the rich. Apparently, the poor darlings have a
serious affliction, and she has dubbed it 'affluenza'.
I think you can judge the value of someone's ideas by the respect
they show for language when trying to convey them. The coinage of such
a barbarism not only demonstrates the fundamental loopiness of the
idea, but goes a long way to show why so many in the mind professions
(especially therapists) are held in such contempt.
Leaving my priggishness on that point aside, however, the notion
that we should feel sorry for the wealthy is spectacularly
brass-necked. It seems that being rich disturbs one's emotional
well-being. Well, fan me with a dishcloth! Another blinding flash of
One possible reason for such a debility which was not raised in the
article which I read is that, given that the vast majority of the rich
have become so as a consequence of being ludicrously over-rewarded
(often for activities which have no real benefits for the well-being of
society), these poor folk are overcome with feelings of guilt, remorse
and futility. But then, most of these people never question the great
good fortune which has put them where they are, so it couldn't be that.
Whatever terrible crises of the soul which may afflict them, I
think most of us would rather have their problems than our own. I live
in a village which has been scarred for nearly a generation by the
slash-and-burn approach to industry taken by the detested Th*tch*r, and
where most people have constant worries over whether they will still be
able to afford the mortgage (or the rent, or the payments on the car,
or whatever) next month. Most people in our society (you know,
market-fans, the one there's no such thing as?) walk along the edge of
a sword in financial and material terms, and have to mis-use so many of
their precious few moments in their lives worrying about being able to
have even some of the fundamental accoutrements of civilised modern
The idea that they (or, indeed, anyone else) should feel sorry for
the rich is either a rather sick joke on the part of someone with a
warped sense of humour, or it's a very clever attempt to assuage the
annoyance of those of less elevated financial fortune, somewhat along
the lines of wretched old clichés such as, "Oh, well, so long as
yer've got yer 'ealth", or "It can't buy you happiness, can it?". These
are anthems for the self-defeated, clarion calls to servile apathy.
Feel sorry for the rich? Pardon me while I blow me nose....