Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brainless twats, anyone?

I'm indebted to Neil for this wonderful link today. Imagine the joy of reading the news in the vernacular! Imagine the relief of no longer having to teach kids that formal prose was the biz (unless you were indulging in a bit of judiciously-rationed dialogue). Next we'll have regional newsreaders with their own special way of reporting, and visiting foreigners will remain totally in the dark. And the only place where current standards will apply will be London - unless of course it's Walford's day.

But then I realise that it would be even easier to slip into the horrors of slack writing while readers were diverted by vernacular expression. If you read, for example, the fourth paragraph of the story linked to, you'll find that a bus started its engine and released the handbrake - an engaging vision, but not, I think, meant. Cops and brainless twats I can take, but not misrelated participial phrases. Oh no.

Back to the Guardian ...

Update: someone has removed the piece from the site. Commiserations if you missed it - it was a joy.
Latest : You can still read it here, thanks to the Google cache.


  1. Anonymous12:15 AM

    I am in your debt for this egregious piece of reportage. On an evening when one of the items in the increasingly irrelevant BBC news was about a self-driving car (which, after all, is what automobile loosely means), it delights my soul to read of the self-releasing and -propelling bus. It could only happen in Paisley.
    I share your loathing of misrelated participial phrases, as well as of participles that merely dangle; but "Back to the Guardian ..."???! Pace your esteemed scion, nothing would make me return thereto. I did buy one last Thursday en route to Banbury to see my 7-month-old great-niece, because there was a chance that her photo would appear in it as part of a group of swimming babies. There was a splendid photie, but she wasn't part of the group.
    My aversion to what I'm sure is a great newspaper arises from the pi whining noises which used to emanate from its letters page back in the day. They may still do so. However, I shall for ever be grateful to the Guardian for the best literal I have ever seen. At the time of the Jeremy Thorpe affair, it carried a po-faced editorial containing the immortal phrase " ... a megaphone rectal of bedroom indelicacies ...". The sub was obviously no Hammurabi: s/he didn't have an eye for an i.

  2. Anonymous1:02 AM

    ... and another thing hit me on the staircase: did Robert Browning really think that a nun's twat was part of her (dress) habit? "Blunderingly" is how Chambers defines that Mr B's misinterpretation.

  3. I can see now that I am going to have be more careful. After all, I come from the south (US) where both grammer AND pronunciation (and sometimes spelling)are tricky. After all, making a 5 letter word into three syllables is not always easy.

    I'm glad somebody is watching over us, though. ;)

  4. This is what I love about blogging - the blog bedfellows!