I'm thinking of starting a campaign -- something like CULL: Campaign against Ugly Linguistic Liberties. Maybe that needs some working on, but my underlying angst and anger are caused by the the use of ugly language in writing -- language that nobody in their right mind would use in everyday life.
Take the word "driving", for example. There are only two things that can be driven: someone crazy, or a vehicle. Agendas cannot be driven, and neither than a curriculum, content delivery, or anything else.
I was reading recently in Oliver Quinlan's newsletter about a class of children who have been told to never use the word "said". They had to use synonyms instead. That is ridiculous. Imagine this conversation between me and my wife:
Elaine: So what did the garage say about the clutch?
Me: Well, the mechanic looked and gasped. "My goodness", he exclaimed. "That will be expensive! At least £100". "What?", I expostulated.
Nobody speaks like that.
I'm not a pedant, but I try to follow just a few simple rules when I am writing:
- I try to write the way most people speak, and certainly the way I speak.
- I try to avoid jargon, management speak or clichés.
- I try to make my writing unintrusive. That is to say, I don't try to be too erudite because it may come across as contrived.
- I should like my writing to be mellifluous, but if I cannot achieve that then I'd at least hope it wasn't regarded as ugly.
As for not using the word "said", I say beware of academics or policy-makers who have not only never written anything remotely creative in their lives, but also have not bothered to speak to anyone who has.