Mind your language

Why twerking sounds so stupid

14 December 2013 9:00 am

The Widow Twankey first appeared on stage in 1861. At that time daily papers listed on Boxing Day dozens of novelty-stuffed…

Dot Wordsworth: Jostling aggressively with 'selfie' and 'twerk', we have 'push back'

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Something funny happened when my husband yawned. I yawned. That wasn’t the funny thing. The funny thing was that I…

Dot Wordsworth: Don't call him Revd Flowers!

30 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Here,’ said my husband, chucking a folded-back copy of the Daily Telegraph to me, ‘this’ll interest you.’ For once he…

Aunt

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Catching up with the excellent biography of the 3rd Marquess of Bute (the man who built Cardiff Castle among other…

Dot Wordsworth: Is M&S really 'Magic & Sparkle'?

16 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Believe in Magic & Sparkle,’ says the Marks & Spencer television Christmas advertisement. The phrase is meant to suggest the…

Collagen

9 November 2013 9:00 am

I saw an advertisement for Active Gold Collagen, and I realised I didn’t know what collagen means. My husband just…

The week in words: 'Pull & Bear' is all style, no substance

2 November 2013 9:00 am

‘This’ll make you laugh,’ said my husband, sounding like George V commenting on an Impressionist painting. ‘Someone in the Telegraph…

The bare-brained youth of south London

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘Bare? Extra? What does it all mean?’ asked my husband, sounding like George Smiley in the middle of a particularly…

Word of the Week: Does it matter who uses the N-word?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

The BBC is to broadcast what is now referred to as the ‘C-word’ in a drama about Dylan Thomas. ‘It…

The week in words: When politicians use 'hard-working'

12 October 2013 9:00 am

In his New Year message for 1940, Joseph Goebbels complained that the ‘warmongering cliques in London’ hated the German people…

Dot Wordsworth's week in words: Did William Empson have the first clue what 'bare ruined choirs' meant?

5 October 2013 9:00 am

I am shocked to find that William Empson, famous for his technique of close reading, was no good at reading…

Word of the Week: If your jacket isn't blazing, don't call it a 'blazer'

28 September 2013 9:00 am

‘It’s not right, is it?’ said Veronica, pointing to a poster for H&M women’s blazers at £17.I agreed. But she…

Capital letters

21 September 2013 9:00 am

One man’s grammatical nicety is another man’s grotesque solecism, I thought, as I perused a report in the Gulf News,…

Mind your language: the dark side of squee

14 September 2013 9:00 am

Oxford Dictionaries have been adding some rather silly words to their online resources, such as phablet (‘a smartphone with a…

Dot Wordsworth: We've been self-whipping since 1672

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Isabel Hardman of this parish explained after last week’s government defeat that a deluded theory among the party leadership had…

Vikings

31 August 2013 9:00 am

‘What’s he saying now?’ asked my husband in a provoking manner when an actor read out a bit of the…

After ‘literally’, is it time to start a Neighbourhood Watch for the OED?

24 August 2013 9:00 am

There was outrage last week when it was found that the Oxford English Dictionary had listed one sense of literally…

Bongo

17 August 2013 9:00 am

Alexandra Shulman was on Desert Island Discs this summer and one choice was ‘Bongo Bong’. Its words tell a simple…

Mind your language: Frack vs frag

10 August 2013 9:00 am

‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a frack,’ replied my husband unwittily when I asked how he’d feel if shale…

Mind your language: The springs before the Arab Spring

3 August 2013 9:00 am

Two hundred and forty-years ago next Tuesday, Thomas Gray was buried in his mother’s grave in Stoke Poges churchyard. In…

Mind your language: Who says there's a 'correct name' for the penis?

27 July 2013 9:00 am

In a very rum letter to the Daily Telegraph, the Mother’s Union of all people joined with some other bodies…

Mind your language: How the Dreamliner got its name

20 July 2013 9:00 am

‘Planes don’t run off batteries,’ declared my husband, his finger unerringly on the pulse of technology as ever. I had…

Transparency

13 July 2013 9:00 am

On 21 June 1785, James Woodforde was in Norwich and in the evening went to Bunns pleasure gardens, where ‘there…

Swathe

6 July 2013 9:00 am

Swathe is a popular word at the moment, and ignorance of its meaning, spelling and pronunciation deters no one. It…

Women

29 June 2013 9:00 am

Unaccountably, people have begun to pronounce women ‘women’, if you see what I mean. For centuries we’ve been pronouncing it…