That damned revolting pedant.

Much of this post will be irrelevant to non-British readers.  I apologise in advance.

I am getting worried about the BBC’s syllogistic facilities.  From a BBC “South Today” news broadcast:

“Two ladies from our region are taking part in the world gliding championships in Australia.  Our success in the Women’s’ Football League shows what can be achieved”

Therefore, somewhat illogically:

British women are good at football.

Football is a sport.

Gliding is now apparently a competitive sport, rather than a pastime.

Therefore British women will be good at gliding.

I am not totally convinced.


In a similar vein, why was the BBC so interested in the fact that “only” 42% of performers at the Glastonbury Festival were female?  All hail to the tweeter who stated that in his/her opinion the quality of music is more important than the gender of the performer.


I am beginning to wonder if the BBC is trying to outdo Channel 4 in its “equality” stance. Sorry BBC, but having a continuity announcer from Ulster will never quite outdo the apparent Jamaican on Channel 4 (a channel that was set up to be controversial and forward-looking).

Both are equally comic to a listener brought up in the days when even a Dorset accent was deemed a hindrance to career progress.

English as she is spoke.

If you wish to read or hear examples of some of the best current creative use of the English language, you only need to read Hansard reports or watch the BBC Parliament Channel.

Yesterday there was a demonstration in the Public Gallery of the House of Commons, in which several people removed their clothing.

The current orator, not to be confused with the Speaker, continued his speech after encouraging fellow members to maintain their gaze in his direction rather than any other, and resumed his speech with the phrase “The BARE truth is…”

Within the next ten minutes, I heard: “the Government has been STRIPPED of its powers” and “We would not wish to send the Prime Minister NAKED into the conference hall…”

The protest itself was, apart from those references, ignored and business continued as usual – or what passes for usual in Parliament in these turbulent days.

Parliamentary Etiquette

One thing that I do enjoy when listening to British parliamentary debates is the formalised speech.  Sometimes the best insults may be concealed behind the eloquence of the most fluent in this form of English.

It is archaic, but it has its own charm.  For example, in the House of Commons, one never refers to the House of Lords (the regulatory, or “upper” chamber of parliament), but to “Another Place”.

The Speaker of the House will call members to speak by name, but in all other circumstances, and by other members they are referred to as: e.g.”The Minister” or “The (Honourable) Member for Little Podlington and Sparrowbridge”, or if they happen to be on the same side, one can get away with: “My Honourable Friend”.

Apart from anything else, it’s a great test of memory when there are 650 people to remember together with their official titles if appropriate and the constituency they represent.

A classic example of the pedantry is a frequent declamation from the Speaker:
“Order! The Honourable Gentleman must not shout from a sedentary position.”, which can be interpreted as “Oy, you – shut your mouth and wait your turn.”

A wonderful example today of a minor rebuke by Mr. Speaker Bercow:
“We welcome the honourable member for X to the chamber, and we hope that she has sufficiently recovered her breath to ask her scheduled question”.
Or in other words: “You’re late, and you missed your turn.”

And you thought Chaucer and Shakespeare were difficult to understand?

By the way, I think that Mr. Speaker Bercow is looking very fatigued after the last two days of chairing parliamentary debates about “Brexit” that remind me of the old computer game “Lemmings”.   Instead of building bridges, our MPs have started digging holes in different directions and neither side now has enough bridge builders to get anyone out of the hole.


From a pedant

I freely admit that I am a pedant.  I also acknowledge that language evolves. But I am becoming increasingly annoyed about the wrongful use of the word “multiple”.

I hear it all the time nowadays.  The latest was on the BBC news “multiple people have been shot…”

I believe they mean “many”, or “several”, or “some” or “a number of” or even “lots of”.  Multiple people by definition means people composed of several components, which I guess means all of us.  It is not any form of quantitative evaluation.

If we could please revert to the real meaning of “multiple”, as in “six is a multiple of two and three”, maybe we could also dispense with the horrid dumbing down phrase of “timesed by” rather than the correct “multiplied by”.

Of course, three times two equals six, and three multiplied by two equals six, but “timesed by” makes no sense whatsoever.  I cannot find any definition of the word “timesed” except in the plebian “Wiktionary”, compiled by contributors of no officially recognised knowledge of the subject matter.