This blog tries to be
a home for those who enjoyed posting
on the old BBC Word of Mouth Message board
— and anybody else with an interest in language.

If you want to start a new discussion, please do one of the following:

• Add your new point as a comment here (Click)
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Sunday, 18 August 2013

We need to talk about literally | OxfordWords blog

Fiona MacPherson 

Playing around with the Share facility, I ended up with the link below appearing on this moribund blog of mine.

We need to talk about literally | OxfordWords blog

So I've added this nice picture of the author. If you want to comment here, please feel free.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Caro's query

Caro writes

"Oh yes, I might like that [to become an author]. In the meantime I have a query. Someone has asked on another forum when the style of writing 'shippe' for 'ship' and 'beste' for 'best' etc stopped. We have been reading an historical document (you prefer a historical document, don't you?) from about 1575 and it uses these longer forms."

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Author! Author!

Want to become an author? That would seem to be the solution for the problem that so far only I've been the only person capable of starting a thread.

Let me know (by email or in a comment) that you would like to be able to start threads and I will make you an author, thus turning this into a group blog.

I've only just discovered this possibility, so I can't tell you exactly how it will work. It could be fun finding out!

I've learned a little more about how it works. All you need to do is
  1. create a google account
  2. send me your email address
I'll then fix it so that you can create your own posts and edit them.

Hastening demise of I?

Andy Coulson
On Newsnight just now a Conservative politician told Kirsty Wark that judging the possibility of criminal acts by Andy Coulson was 
"not for you or I"
Now this could be explained as a simple extension of the creeping increase of "for you and I". And one of the usual explanations of this is that 
you and I is a 'conjoined' unit, of which only the first pronoun takes the objective case form — for example for him and  or for them and I. You can hardly call the phrase you or I  'conjoined', but it is, arguable, a unit.

However, this can't explain the politician's grammatical choice. Earlier, He's told Kirsty that judgement of Ady Coulson's activities was
"not for you or for I".

This could well be a signal of the future of English grammar. Accusative and dative case forms long ago disappeared from nouns — leaving a small rump of 'objective case' forms for 
  • some personal pronouns (me him her us them and related himself herself themselves)
  • the pronoun that doubles as interrogative and relative (whom)
It's well known that whom is becoming rare in speech, and expressions like between you and I are on the increase. It looks to me as if objective case forms like me  might be reducing still further to the status of first mention only.

Time, ladies and gentleman please?

It looks as if time has been called in the zetaboards 
Word of Mouth saloon — and, indeed, all the other HyperTV drinking holes. We can't even access old postings, the way we can with the old original BBC WoM Board.

If you are a regular old drinker reading this, please consider transferring your custom. It really could be the Last Chance Saloon. 

I'll make you as welcome as I possibly can, although I know the blogger environment is not so friendly or accommodating. Please believe me that it doesn't always go wrong. There are frequent exasperating problems, but they do get fixed. There is a constant problem for new users learning how to post comments. Please believe me that it gets easier as you get used to it.

If you follow two golden rules you'll avoid the most common problems — though not all, alas!

Rule One Remember to Sign in before you start writing a comment.

Rule Two If you realise you've forgotten to Sign in

  1. Copy and save any text you've written
  2. Sign in
  3. Move forward, not back, to the page with the Comment box
  4. Paste the text in (if you've used any formatting tags, you'll need to restore them)
You can't post without an identity of some sort. The way I started on blogger was to create a phantom blog, which I never used until starting this ex-WoM enterprise. There are, of course, other ways but I don't have any knowledge of them. If you do acquire a blogger identity, you can add a little picture. 

You can also use your identity to become a follower, if you wish. This will allow you to send emails to me without knowing my address. So it's relatively easy to start a thread: just email the text to me. (Another way is to post your text as a comment and ask me to make a thread of it.) I may also send emails indirectly to you. (I'll only do this for blog business, and I'll happily stop doing so if you don't want to receive them.)

You can see a list of RECENT POSTS at the right-hnd side of the blog. I'm afraid there's no RECENT COMMENTS list, but you can discover them though the All Comments box under the 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

THEM - The Creeping Horror!

Another post from Brian Duncan 
Grouchy old pedants such as I - unless we are completely stupid - have long accepted the status of gender-neutral singular pronoun that political correctness has now firmly assigned to  "they" and its kin.  
We acknowledge that such usage is not only time-honoured, but dignified in the works of masters of English literature (though perhaps there may be a measure of irony in Wodehouse's gloss of "the psychology of the individual" as "what they are like").  
We may even, while eschewing the usage ourselves, accept that it is preferable to the clumsy  "he or she".  In any case, it is no sillier than the formal Italian use of "lei" (= "they") for "you".

However  .  .  .  where is the sense in the following from Evan Davis on "Today" the other morning? 

Evan Davis

"  . . . here is someone else who wants to express their view on this topic:  Lord Warner . . ."

Lord Warner

I acknowledge that my quotation is woefully inaccurate, but the absurdity contained within it is not.   That Lord Warner is a man is beyond doubt:  were it not so, his title would be "Lady".  That "Lord" is a noun of the masculine gender is a matter of fact, even were the sex of its holder a matter of conjecture.  Why, then, in the name of all that's reasonable, does Mr Davis find it appropriate to say "their" instead of "his"?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A new start?

Back from holiday, with this postcard. 
I'll try again ...

One way of signing in that works
This is how I got started on Blogger.
  1. At the top right of the screen, click Create Blog
  2. Follow the instructions, which I found pretty clear. This will give you a Google account, which makes signing in quite easy. You don't have to use your blog. I left mine alone until I though of using it for ex-Word-of-Mouth.
  3. In future, always check the top right hand corner. If it shows Sign in then you need to click it if you want to post a comment.
  4. Once signed in, never navigate backwards.
  5. I started on Blogger to follow other language blogs:

 I can recommend all three. The John Wells blog can be technical (sometimes very technical) but quite often it's very accessible. David Crystal is excellent value, but he doesn't post all that often. Lynne Murphy ('Lynnequist Lynneguist') starts thread on differences between British and American usage and lots of people feel confident enough to post.