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Stuck in amid hell with you
The word ‘amid’ is scarcely used at all in spoken or written English. Why, then, is it so popular with journalists?
Amid, among, a muddle. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
“Hi, Brian! Where’s Sophie?”
“Sophie and I have split up amid rumours of an affair.”
“Why are you talking like that?”
“This conversation comes amid revelations that I’ve landed a job as a subeditor.”
Obviously, the exchange above never took place, because no one talks like that. (If they did, you could be forgiven for putting your fist amid their face.) More to the point, no one writes like that; except, it would seem, people of news. Continue reading
Moving forward. Stop moving forward. Full stop.
Date: October 16, 2013
The meaningless phrase ‘going forward’ makes my blood boil. Get rid of it.
”… there are lessons here for me to learn going forward, and I certainly look forward to working with Anthony Albanese to understand some of those lessons.”
Bill Shorten, October 13 Continue reading
Aged 17, I heard a confession that I found exhilarating. Mr Downs, my English teacher, confessed that he’d read the dictionary. Cover to cover.
A man with a big diction will often impress. But he doesn’t impress everyone. Some – such as George Orwell – argue that it’s not the length of the words that count, but how you use them. “Never use a long word where a short one will do” and “never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent”, he advised in his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language – the journalist’s unofficial bible.