Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

I WAS going to ask my husband to explain the meaning of the word pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism, but since I made the mistake a couple of weeks ago of confusing the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, he has been refusing to discuss medical terminology with me, which is probably just as well, though he has promised to buy me a copy of The Human Brain Colouring Book (there really is such a thing) for Christmas.

In the meantime I have been struck by the way trademark keeps popping up all over the place. It is puzzling enough to learn that Mr Major seems to be acting as an agent to have the late Diana, Princess of Wales's image recognised as a trademark. Even harder to explain is the fad for using trademark adjectivally or attributively.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford, in the obituary of him in the dear old Telegraph of all places, was described as `instantly recognisable by his trademark cigar and bow tie'. I can't see that the word trademark adds anything to `instantly recognisable by his cigar and bow tie'.

It is not as if this attributive figurative usage has only been adopted in the past few months. …

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