Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mounds of verbiage

I am taking it for granted that you guys are all watching the election proceedings carefully, comparing the linguistic styles of the nation's leading politicians, and exploring how they are busy asserting their power, authority and general right to be elected. So as you're already on that case, I'm not going to dwell on it here.

Instead, my eye was caught by Fay Weldon's piece in the Sunday Times, lambasting the modern tendency, particularly in public slogans, to present the reader with the eternal promise and elusive fulfilment of the dangling participle. Even if you need to swot up a bit on what that grammatical term means (it's all in the article linked below), I'll bet you all ten quid you're already familiar with it from your school/college mission statements. How does it go? "Providing magnificent general education", or "Trying really hard". That 'ing' is your dangling participle, and Fay Weldon is fed up with them.

She's also none too pleased with other "mounds of verbiage" in other forms of public and official discourse. This is exactly the kind of linguistic issue the Plain English Campaign aims to tackle, so check them out too. And in one brief moment of election fantasy, wouldn't it be great if they got to vet all politician's speeches?....

Check out the links, then how 'bout posting your school/college's dangling participle on the comments board?...

Language: not another euphemism

Introduction to the Plain English Campaign


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