I have just made a momentous discovery, one I want to share with you. I’ve often wondered what the plural was of Grand Prix (no, I lie. I’ve never wondered what the plural was). One Grand Prix but two ... ? I’ve just found out. It’s Grands Prix. A bit like two Governors-General, three courts-martial, four secretaries-general (and a partridge in a pear tree).
Isn’t the English language wonderful? But there are some who, I think, abuse the language most dreadfully. I hope there’s a special place in hell for those who say “the amount of people” instead of “the number of people”. Or “less people” rather than “fewer people”. There are any number of culprits, for example, media people and a scattering of academics who should know better.
I’m all for innovation. English as a language is vibrant, a living thing. Why not add words like “holler” and “creek” as in “up the ...” How about “dag” which is a gloriously indigenous New Zealand word meaning that bit of dry dung hanging from a sheep’s backside. A great word to use for some of the scumbags, Honest Joe car salesmen, News of the World journalists, tyrants and dictators of the world (and, of course, politicians!).
The Lake Superior State University in Michigan, USA, publishes an annual list of words (and phrases) that they consider should be banished from our vocabulary due to “misuse, overuse and general uselessness”. Their list includes words like ‘amazing’, ‘live life to the fullest’ (‘full’ doesn’t have degrees of comparison. Full is full, baby), ‘transparency’ (especially in government. Don’t you lot try to bluff us) and ‘app’ (whatever that is). My own list would include ‘at this point in time’, ‘gobsmacked’, ‘gutted’ and ‘struggling to come to terms with’. What useless words and phrases would you have on your list?
As for that special place in hell for those who abuse the language? This “Hellfire” Granny will be there stoking the fires and turning over on the satanic spit all those who abuse the English language.
Jenny Hellfire Harrison