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.
The Norwegian way
19th December 2004
Manneken Pis (January) says that the Norway-EU deal is “comically disadvantageous” to Norway. In that case, how would he characterise the UK-EU deal? What the Norwegians get is this: no common agricultural policy; no common fisheries policy (the reason they have a thriving fishing industry); no customs union (the reason they represent themselves at the WTO, unlike the UK); no economic and monetary union; no common and foreign security policy; no EU justice and home affairs policies.
What Norway does get is free movement of goods, services, capital and people between itself and the EU. For this, it pays to the EU each year, per capita, four times less than the UK. Sure, Norway has no vote on EU laws, but then the UK has only 9 per cent of the vote on EU laws (about to shrink further as other countries…