‘Mistakes were made’: detecting the sneaky passive voice

16 June 2014, 6.34am AEST
‘Mistakes were made’: detecting the sneaky passive voice


Baden Eunson
Adjunct Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University

Baden Eunson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Ronald Reagan: ‘mistakes were made’. But by whom, Mr President? By you? Flickr/Brett Tatman, CC BY-SA
In a recent enquiry into alleged sexual abuses by priests, Cardinal George Pell said:

Mistakes were made by me and by others in the church that resulted in driving Mr Ellis and the archdiocese apart rather than bringing healing.
In a 2011 interview with the late Sir David Frost, the British prime minister, David Cameron, observed this about UK Middle Eastern policy:

Yes of course mistakes were made and of course you know what happened at Guantanamo Bay, there were mistakes made.
In 1987, US president Ronald Reagan said in a speech about the Iran-Contra affair: Continue reading

Environment commissioner Kate Auty quits, drops bucket

Environment commissioner Kate Auty quits, drops bucket
March 6, 2014
Comments 83 Read later

Tom Arup
Environment editor, The Age

Victoria’s environment commissioner has quit and hit out at the Napthine government’s attitude on climate change, saying bureaucrats told her they were directed to refrain from even using the term. Continue reading

The 10 most overused business words

The 10 most overused business words
December 9, 2013
25 reading nowRead later
Kate Jones
Best practice, synergies, dovetail – does anyone really know what these words mean?

Jack Ellis doesn’t believe in weasel words.
Weasel words, spin words or buzz words. Whatever you call them, they irritate the hell out of us.

Like any other industry, business has its own jargon. Words like “synergistic” and phrases such as “touching base” are now common corporate speak.
Continue reading

Moving forward. Stop moving forward. Full stop.

Moving forward. Stop moving forward. Full stop.

The Age

Date: October 16, 2013
Michael Shmith
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