Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth

Article excerpt

Crooning is I think the word to describe what my husband was doing to the lyrics of a Beach Boys number. 'Round, round, get around, I get around,' he crooned ludicrously, for no one less like a Beach Boy than he, with his frayed tweed jacket cuffs, could be imagined. He was, however, right if he was implying that the boys from Hawthorne, California, were having their cake and eating it. Generally, where a choice is possible, Americans prefer around and the British prefer round. I can't get used to references to All-Around Gymnastics. What next, cricketing all-arounders?

Anyway, British English is suffering from prepositionitis, unable to come out with the correct preposition when it's needed. I have been complaining about across since I wrote about it here in 2011, and on Saturday I heard two absurd examples: an announcer on Radio 4 plugging coverage of the Commonwealth Games 'across the BBC' and the agreeable Bridget Kendall speaking of cotton in use 'across the globe'. If anything's round, one would have thought it was the globe. Yet I find that the Oxford English Dictionary has 12 quotations illustrating other words (since it has no separate entry for across the globe) which happen to include this phrase. …

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