Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

I TURNED on the news on Radio Four and heard, `There are new concerns over ticketing for the England game... ' It almost seems that my writing about annoying usages causes them to breed. I have mentioned concems before and now there seem to be nothing but concerns wherever one turns. Later in the very same news bulletin we heard of action being planned `as a mark of Nato's concern'. I suppose it makes a difference from a `mark of respect'.

The annoying aspect is the ambiguity of the word. Concerns in the plural often seems to be used instead of fears - itself an overused journalist's word which is now enjoying a little holiday.

But it is vaguer than that. The head of global sponsorship at Adidas, the sports-shoe makers, said on television on the last day of May, `We definitely have some concerns.' I think he meant they were worried about something. And it seems not enough to use concern in the singular, they come in pluralities, though whether because there are separate grounds for concern or because several people share the same concern is not always clear. …

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