Published in February 2005 issue of Prospect Magazine
Mother tongue 1
29th December 2004
Your foreword (January), commenting on Richard Jenkyns’s essay on misuses of the English language, stated that, “the grandiloquence of political language seems in inverse proportion to the smallness of the issues.” You meant the opposite: the grandiloquence is in inverse proportion to the greatness of the issues.
Mother tongue 2
30th December 2004
I started to read Richard Jenkyns’s article anticipating an elitist diatribe which I could challenge at every step. Unfortunately for the inverted snob in me, it turned out to be an excellent, even-handed discussion. However, I did manage to find one toehold: he only mentions the idea of an “elite conspiracy to keep the proles in their place” as a possible argument which did not even merit consideration. This is a shame, because I am sure that the role of language as a social weapon remains significant.