Mind your language

Why Liz Kendall isn't close to qualifying as 'Taliban New Labour'

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Toxic virus or Taleban: it’s funny how the mild-mannered Liz Kendall has attracted for her Blairite associations the most violently…

Where ‘big ask’ came from, and why it still sounds barbaric

8 August 2015 9:00 am

‘That’s unnecessarily crude,’ said my husband, turning momentarily from the television and improving the shining minute by setting the whisky…

Why I hate ‘I love that…’

1 August 2015 9:00 am

I had never heard the Country (Red Dirt) singer Wade Bowen before, although his latest album Hold my Beer (Vol 1)…

Pluto’s moon Charon is secretly a Charlene

25 July 2015 9:00 am

‘What about the moon Tracey?’ asked my husband facetiously when an astronomer on the wireless, talking of Pluto’s moon Charon,…

Mind your language: Bugs, bugs, bugs

18 July 2015 9:00 am

If my husband were an insect it might well be a bug — a squat creature imbibing nutriment in liquid form.…

The Spanish village that thought it was called ‘Kill Jews’

11 July 2015 9:00 am

A village has changed its name because it seemed offensive. But I think the villagers were under a misapprehension. The…

How a prayer became business speak

4 July 2015 9:00 am

No doubt you, too, have had the feeling, upon glancing at an article in a paper picked up in a…

On the cusp: a cliche with a hidden astrological side

27 June 2015 9:00 am

‘A stalker who dressed a pillow “mannequin” in his ex’s nurse’s uniform, then sent her a picture, has been told…

What kind of life-form boasts that it can ‘speak human’?

20 June 2015 9:00 am

The next Labour leader will have to be able to speak human, said a piece in the Observer. This, it…

Trigger warning: this is an article about the word ‘trigger’

13 June 2015 9:00 am

A notion is going about that, just as readers of film reviews receive spoiler alerts, so readers of anything should…

The rise and rise of the brain fade

6 June 2015 9:00 am

‘Aa-aah,’ groaned my husband, ‘we fade to grey.’ He had never been much of a Young Romantic, even when Visage…

The real contest at Eurovision: worst lyric

30 May 2015 9:00 am

Like a reluctantly remembered nightmare, last week’s Eurovision Song Contest already seems very distant. But, in the manner of the…

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…