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The TFT Guide To... Improving the English language

The Plain English Campaign has called for a clampdown on cliches, after a survey found 'At the end of the day' to be the most irritating phrase in the English language. ('At this moment in time' and 'like', used as a punctuation mark, came joint second.) So how can we improve the English language? TFT suggests:

2 April 2004

1) Make 'business English' say what it means. For example, instead of saying 'strategy', say 'a random collection of half- baked ideas cooked up by a bunch of middle-management mediocrities to disguise the fact that we haven't thought further ahead than next Tuesday.'

2) Invent new, contemporary cliches, eg. `Blind as a Blunkett', 'Dead as a Japanese whale', 'Thick as two Sara Coxs' etc.

3) Stop using terms like 'y'know' and 'like' as pauses and 'breathing spaces' while speaking. Instead give yourself more time to collect your thoughts by saying 'supercalafragilisticexpialidocious'. (Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious.)

4) Prevent 'urban English' polluting proper English by making rap artists express themselves using iambic pentameter, eg. 'Shall I compare thee to a bitch or ho?/ A cap in your ass you will get my bro'.'

5) Make it illegal to take pride in incomprehensible regional dialects, eg. 'I had fer t'go t't'other side o' clundy fer t'git nyow magic pick-sure box'. (Translation: 'I had to go to the other side of Shropshire to get a new wide-screen, NICAM digital stereo TV.')

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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