Free range speech by Trevor Plumbly

Nutter mutter An English sports presenter’s been hauled over the coals for offering an opinion, as has the chair of Health NZ. It might be an age thing, but I’m beginning to believe that the freedom to say what you think is taking a dive; between racial sensitivity, gender identity and cultural protection, plus minority ‘add-ons’, it’s getting to be a bit of a minefield. Time was that, within reason, we were left to sort the harmless eccentrics from the dangerous loonies for ourselves, but these days social media aggrandises all misfits… Read More

GOBSMACKED! By Trevor Plumbly

Verbal schmerbal I feel a bit hypocritical knocking this one out under ‘Verbalberbal’; let’s face it, as a title it’s not the best use of ‘English as she is spoke’. In hindsight I would have gone for something more biting but tasteful, like ‘Wensleydale’ if you get my drift, but ‘verbal’ came up when whiz words were something of a novelty and now ‘it is what it is’ as they say, and that brings me to my point. The legal and medical fraternity once held a monopoly of evasive language, but since… Read More

Only connect! By Angela Caldin

The full quotation in E M Forster’s Howard’s End goes like this, ‘Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.’ I often think of these lofty and powerful words when I’m pondering about where to position only in a sentence so that the meaning is clear. Some people get really excited about this and insist that only should be placed immediately before the word or phrase it modifies. In this way, ‘He only gave… Read More

Names matter by Susan Grimsdell

Choosing the right name Betty Friedan made a very powerful point way back in 1963.  If a problem has no name, it doesn’t exist. She was talking about the limitations on women’s role in society, and her work marked the beginning of awareness for most people – me for one.   Another point to remember is that whatever name is chosen determines how the  problem will be perceived.   If we label poverty using words that indicate laziness and unwillingness to work, the perception is quite different from a label that indicates bad luck… Read More

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