Sunday 12 May 2013


The population has ballooned

UKIP leaflet says that the local population has been "ballooning over the last decade". Nonsense. I've been once, and that was in Egypt. (Lord Beestonia/‏@Beeestonia, 28 April 2013)

Leafing through
some ancient magazines (How old does something be before you "leaf" through it rather than "flicking"? Got to be at least 20 years, I think.) letslooksideways.blogspot

always “resorted to”

explode: The industry is undergoing explosive growth. (BBC News That's rapid, prodigious or excessive growth.) Cities exploded to house the middle classes. (They expanded quickly.)

immense speeds: high speeds (speeds are high or low, not big or small)

salaries swelled accordingly: salaries rise or fall

restore: Can we just “restore” things, without restoring them “to their former glory”?

Propelled by the power of tectonics, India hurtles forward at two inches a year. (That's hyperbole or overstatement.)

big: This is the biggest month in the calendar for anyone whose child is finishing primary school. Tim Lott, Guardian Mar 2013 (most important)

threat: As the threat of war loomed (BBC) as war loomed

reignite: Would tunnelling under Charterhouse Square reignite the Black Death? (revive) BBC News 2013-03-15

trigger: Deposits like these have triggered a new gold rush. BBC News 2013-03-14 (started, set off)

Sam Leith on CS Lewis: A Life and The Intellectual World of CS Lewis  by Alister McGrath G 11 May 2013

Sentence after sentence is inflated with meaningless intensifiers such as "deep", "powerful", "magnificent", "famous" and "prestigious". "Landmark" is a favourite adjective (as in "landmark book"), and the landmarks of McGrath's own text are "crushing personal blows", "tectonic plates", "shattered dreams", "dark shadows", sealed fates and "forces over which he had no control". … [His marriage:] ("a ticking time bomb" … "a Trojan horse"); her death ("emotional firestorm" … "emotional battering ram").

Nick Laird, The Guardian, Friday 29 March 2013 13.00 GMT   

I spent a few weeks recently reading through 10,000 of the 13,000 entries for the National Poetry Competition. Many were very good; a few hundred were excellent…  Still, reading the poems was also, sometimes, depressing. There were poems that weren't good, and they tended to have features in common: a lack of control or occasion, a lack of linguistic felicity or surprise…

If the title is a ready-made phrase such as
A Falling Star, the poet already has a distance to claw back. So scrap the cliches: his breath is not bated, the contrast is not sharp. We want the language of a poem to renew our experience of life, not dull it with rote phraseology...

The register has to be controlled, and preferably not helplessly imitative or archaic. Be careful with words such as whence or din or guffaw or russet. Also, contorted or caress or ochre. Or clad or crave or pale or engorged. Or gossamer. Don't write about things frosted with dew...
Please don't set your font to eight and please refrain from using dingbats... More here.


  1. In the Guardian recently they were pointing out that fire engines 'rush to the scene', while police cars have 'sirens blaring',and they're both doing a 'mercy dash.' Guilty as charged when writing news stories very fast in my radio days, but hoping to do better when there's more time...