Mind your language

Mind your language: Heritage this and heritage that

23 May 2015 9:00 am

Benidorm has applied for World Heritage status. To achieve this, says Unesco, a site must have ‘outstanding universal value’ in…

That irritating use of ‘progressive’ is more than a century old

16 May 2015 9:00 am

I was interested by the widespread annoyance at the use of progressive by the lefty parties before the election. Irritation…

Don’t want a Princess Charlotte? Try Violant, Fatima, Davina, Senna…

9 May 2015 9:00 am

It could have been much worse. Someone had pointed out that among the new baby’s ancestors was Queen Violant of…

English cities don’t have quarters – whatever the executives say

2 May 2015 9:00 am

‘No quarter given,’ yelled my husband as he stabbed at a cushion with his stick, spoiling the cavalier effect a…

Does the English language need a Norwegian lesson?

25 April 2015 9:00 am

‘Ten Norwegian phrases that don’t exist in English but should,’ said the headline. So I had a little look, as…

Why do politicians go potty for ‘passion’?

18 April 2015 9:00 am

‘I long for spontaneous passion but I will never get it with my husband because I think he has Asperger…

Nick Clegg’s public-school insult

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Married to a public-school man (I almost said boy) for many a long year, I can’t bring myself to disqualify…

The new Fowler still won’t grasp the nettle on ‘they’

4 April 2015 8:00 am

I’ve been having a lovely time splashing about in the new Fowler. It has been revised by Jeremy Butterfield, an…

Where ‘poop’ came from

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Danny Alexander recounted in the Diary last week his daughter’s efforts in making unicorn poop. This is something of a…

The lost words of John Aubrey, from apricate to scobberlotcher

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Hilary Spurling found a certain blunting of the irregularities of John Aubrey’s language in Ruth Scurr’s vicarious autobiography of the…

Are you negatively impacted by business-speak? It’s time to escalate

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Maureen Finucane of Richmond, Surrey, wonders whether there is any branch of public service not infected by Orwellian Newspeak. In…

How long is it since anniversaries stopped being measured in years?

7 March 2015 9:00 am

‘You must promise to be with us for our silver wedding D.V. which will be in four years,’ wrote Queen…

‘Robust’, busted

28 February 2015 9:00 am

‘Heart of Oak are our ships, Jolly Tars are our men,’ shouted my husband unconvincingly. He has taken to doing…

Dodginess from Tacitus to Ed Miliband

21 February 2015 9:00 am

‘I hate Jammie Dodgers,’ said my husband staring disdainfully at a biscuit kindly tucked into his coffee saucer at an…

That annoying ‘likely’ is more old-fashioned than American

14 February 2015 9:00 am

What, asks Christian Major of Bromley, Kent, do I think of ‘this new, I assume American, fad for using the…

Ha! vs Hahaha: the surprisingly subtle world of Twitter style

7 February 2015 9:00 am

I don’t know if you tweet — No! Don’t turn over, I’m not going to get all techie. I do…

What Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t understand about ‘coloured’

31 January 2015 9:00 am

Benedict Cumberbatch apologised at length: ‘devastated’, ‘shaming’, ‘offended’, ‘inappropriate’. What had he done? Been caught in a compromising situation or…

Existential threat: the birth of a cliché

24 January 2015 9:00 am

In the endless game of word association that governs vocabulary, the current favourite as a partner of existential is threat.…

The changing meaning of 'prolific', from Orwell to the Premier League

17 January 2015 9:00 am

I read somewhere recently of a Soho artist who was a ‘prolific drinker’. The meaning is clear, but hasn’t the…

What parenting meant in 1914

10 January 2015 9:00 am

‘Not still War and Peace!’ exclaimed my husband on 1 January during the all-day Tolstoy splurge on Radio 4. In reality…

How ‘data’ became like ‘butter’

3 January 2015 9:00 am

Someone on Radio 4 said she had heard about the sexism of Grand Theft Auto on ‘Women’s Hour’. It is…

The curious language of Christmas carols

13 December 2014 9:00 am

I could never understand as a little girl why we sang: ‘Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.’…

Control

6 December 2014 9:00 am

In his speech on immigration last week, David Cameron said a couple of funny things. I’m not talking about the…

Why ‘respect’ is the last thing we should want from politicians

29 November 2014 9:00 am

‘Respect!’ cried my husband, drop-kicking a cushion with a picture of the Queen Mother holding a pint of beer on…

Does Joey Essex know what ‘reem’ actually means?

22 November 2014 9:00 am

Joey Essex is a celebrity who appeared in the ‘scripted reality’ programme The Only Way is Essex, named not after…