Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

`MUMMY, no, I mean you've got it all wrong. . ' said Veronica in increasingly incoherent moral indignation.

What I had got `all wrong' was snog, and I think the very idea that her parents' generation might ever have done such a thing was reducing her to disgusted blather. The word snog had turned up in the Daily Telegraph, and our own dear editor wrote about it there, saying a reader had told him it was not in his edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Readers are hopeless! (What would we do without you, though?) It is in the second edition, along with the F-word and the great taboo of the C-word (although I learn from the Guardian that they had a play about it).

Veronica, it turned out, had been trying to tell me that the recent vogue usage of snog was new in that it was transitive (a term she apparently has never come across in her Latin classes). Before, people in the back row of the cinema went in for snogging; they snogged. Now, girls even, snog boys actively. …

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