Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

WHO decides these things? I mean things like the announcements on trains that `the next station stop' will be Northampton. I suppose the reasoning is that there might be a station before that one at which the train does not stop. But surely there has never been trouble with any such ambiguity before.

And who taught our children to say train station instead of railway station? I've even heard Veronica say it, though, when I asked her where she got it from, she was quite unable to say. The Zeitgeist has a lot to answer for.

Perhaps the Zeitgeist conjured up a change noted by a reader, Mrs Anne Hosford of Blandford Forum, who sent me a headline from the Sunday Telegraph, that agreeable hebdomadal treat: `He can't please all the people all of the time'. Whither, was the enquiry, came the of?

The learned Dr Robert Burchfield in his New Fowler points out that the construction of all with of (apart from cases with certain personal pronouns such as all of it or all of us) is comparatively modern (by which he means more recent than 1800). …

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