Josh, Julie and the Iraqi English accent

Josh and Julie were my parents-in-law. They were brought up in Iraq, but were expelled when they were in their 20s, went to Israel for a while, and ended up in London. They spoke English with a strong accent and different syntax. During the first gulf war, many Iraqis were interviewed on the radio, and they … Continue reading Josh, Julie and the Iraqi English accent

Some writing principles and the style guide that I haven’t written

A discussion about ableist language stimulated by this article has made me aware of my habitual use of words like idiot and stupid. If that’s offensive (as the article suggests) then I’d prefer not to use them. Also they are a form of thought-stopping; they reject the person or behaviour that is described without explaining … Continue reading Some writing principles and the style guide that I haven’t written

Grammar and the Grammar Police

[This post was originally titled Grammar and the Great White Males. This offended some of the people it referred to. I think they are right. Hence the new title] The Grammar Police keep on picking me up when I discuss good grammar, spelling and punctuation, saying things like “I thought you said grammar doesn’t matter.” I … Continue reading Grammar and the Grammar Police

A letter to a would-be King Cnut of language

Dear Dominic You and I got into a discussion about the abuse of the word literally. I suggested that you look at something I wrote about learning language by osmosis. Language is what people speak, I suggested, not what the rules say. You didn't see it that way. You made an analogy with shopping: [...] … Continue reading A letter to a would-be King Cnut of language