Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Support

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Support

Article excerpt

The Foreword didn't bode well. This was on the first page of The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. It was a 'Foreword by Mathew' as though he were some promising infant. In the second sentence he gave thanks 'for the support and the respect for my independence which has been shown by her [Theresa May's] team'. Two things -- support and respect -- should have a plural verb: have. As for support, we would hear it more than 100 further times. Support came thick and fast, more than once per page. Sometimes it meant 'agree with': 'We support the basic principle of a more dynamic, responsive welfare system.' More often it was used in strange ways, as befits a public body such as the Royal Society of Arts, which Mr Taylor heads. Let us call the new language 'Ras'.

Ras sometimes uses support to mean 'help make possible'. Thus the review says 'Flexibility has been a key part of enabling business to respond to changing market conditions and has supported record employment rates.' In Ras, a chief new meaning of support is simply 'help', as in 'supporting individuals to remain and progress in the labour market'. …

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