Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

TONY BLAIR (who seems to me to be losing his looks as well as his hair, though I cannot speak of his scarred back) followed the zeitgeist in using that popular term kick in (`Mind your language', 3 July) on Question Time last week. He might have been referring to fox-hunting or to the so-called peace process; I forget. Then, of course, peace process itself is a prime example of petitio principii, and there was quite a bit of ignoratio elenchi floating about with respect to the unstated timetable for 'decommissioning'.

It was with a pang of disappointment that I found a goody, the angelic Rebecca Nicolson (who has fled the diabolical advance of Janet StreetPorter and her pandaemonic auxiliaries at the Independent on Sunday), using last week one of my pet hates: defining moment. But then, my pet hates are multiplying to such an extent that they will probably soon be rounded up by the RSPCA, leaving me to be prosecuted for keeping them crowded and ungroomed in insanitary conditions. There may not be a purely linguistic objection to defining moment; perhaps it is just a cliche. A suspicious number of moments seem to be defining something or other these days. …

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