Reading, writing and reason by Trevor Plumbly

A codger’s lament I decided to let the brain off the leash this week and wallow in an old-fashioned moan. I’ve found that one of the gifts of age is the ability to use hindsight as a diagnostic tool for heaps of today’s ills. The popular conception is that age brings wisdom, but even in my case that’s not strictly true; however, for those keen to foster the myth, some subtlety of phrase dealing with younger folk is always a good option. For instance, I never use ‘in my day’ because kids… Read More

Apostrophe do’s and don’ts by Angela Caldin

A long time ago I have a strong memory of being taught about apostrophes in our grammar lessons at school in the 1950s. We were definitely taught to put an apostrophe in that decade and to write the 1950’s. I’m not quite sure what the reasoning was for putting the apostrophe in, but I’m glad that modern usage has decided that we’re dealing with a plural noun and that no apostrophe is required. Mrs Walsh, our English teacher, is probably turning in her grave to see that we now refer to MPs… Read More

Passed away by Susan Grimsdell

Death is the word It’s been a difficult week for me.  What I mourn is not the death of the queen, but the passing away of the word death.  The passing away of placing value on truth and reality, and the replacement of those vital golden values with the dross and fakery of euphemism.  I didn’t hear one single person use the word “died”.  Nor did I hear one single person explain where she has passed away TO.  Considering that a very small percentage of people in the UK and certainly in… Read More

Words sometimes confused: peak, peek and pique by Angela Caldin

Peak Peak can be a verb or a noun. The verb refers to reaching a maximum, or coming to a highest point, literally or figuratively: The noun refers to the highest point of something, like the peak of a mountain: Peek Peek can also be a verb or a noun and is related to sight; it often refers to looking, especially furtively or quickly or through a small space: It’s the word in peekaboo, a traditional game for amusing babies. Peek is also the word in the phrase sneak peek. It might… Read More

Mincing words by Trevor Plumbly

Z is for zombie It struck me the other day, whilst ruminating over the Glenlivet, that language has lost a lot of value since the folk at Silicon Valley decided we needed electronic assistance to resolve things that a reasonable education equipped us to cope with. Sure, life and language evolve and some stuff needs to go; I, for one, don’t want to revisit the formality of the 19th Century, but where most of the population’s concerned, the ability to express themselves clearly seems to be taking a dive. I notice that… Read More