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Language snob

22 March 2016 11:57

I think I’ve turned into a language snob.


I love language. I love its forms. I love the way we can use it not just to communicate the everyday; with language, we can create the fantastical. We can take each other to far flung places, real and imaginary. We can ignite passions and inspire dreams. With words, we can enable escape.


Language that’s beautifully crafted, where words fit together in a seamless flow is, to me, quite simply, heavenly.


And in the spoken word, I love the breadth of accents; how one simple sentence can be transformed from mouth to mouth, depending on each speaker’s geographical origin. It fascinates me. I hear an accent and I want to try it out. (Is that usual?)


So why is it, when we have something so beautiful, so vivid, so creative to craft with and exciting to manipulate, that we sometimes take language and reduce it – to a load of old claptrap?


Why must we sink into this jargon where we ‘take things on board’, ‘think outside the box’, ‘push the envelope’ and ‘land and expand’ (is that last one to do with setting up camp in Arrivals at Heathrow and stuffing your face?). Why must we grapple with the ‘end-user perspective’ and the ‘win-win situations’? And why, oh why, do we have to ‘get our ducks in a row’? What have ducks ever done to anyone? Leave them be.   


And it’s not just jargon that rankles. It’s the trend for distorting and squishing together words, largely names, that were never intended to be distorted and squished together. My current gripe is this one: ‘Brexit’. I mean, who came up with this? Why did they think it was a good idea? Whose minds is this irritating little amalgamation supposed to appeal to?


More to the point: who started this evil trend in the first place?


Consider … We’ve got Brangelina; we’ve had Bennifer (in case you’ve forgotten, that’s Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, and poor Jennifer had already succumbed to JLo). We’ve got SamCam (that’s as political as I’m getting). There’s a string of character name abominations in the TV series, The Vampire Diaries, my daughter’s personal favourite being ‘Klaroline’ (Klaus and Caroline). And, much as I adore the BBC’s The Musketeers (and I seriously do adore them), why must Constance and D’Artagnan be melded into Constagnan? Or Athos and Milady twisted into Milathos? I mean, come on – how would Jane Austen have felt if her readers had reduced her masterpiece to Pridpred, or her leading lights to Fitzliz (or Bendarcy)? And what of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights? I doubt she’d have delighted in her turbulent lovers being marked down as Cathcliff?


In the words of the irressible Miranda Hart (now, let’s see, how can we maul her name – Mirart, perhaps?), IS IT JUST ME?


Coining a phrase is one thing, but jargon? Surely that’s something else altogether. And as for this mangling of words and names, from the bottom of my language snob’s heart I'm begging, please, let’s leave the splicing and dicing in the kitchen for the vegetables.


One of my books for children, Topz Gospels - Matthew, has been shortlisted in the UK Christian Book Awards 2016. To cast your vote, please visit and give it a click!