Too many people just don’t know how to behave—or how to use words properly. Fines, jail and shoe-shining duty await them allby Terry Eagleton / May 25, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
If I were chief executive of the cosmos, the following individuals would be abolished: Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Prince Andrew, Piers Morgan, the BBC’s Ben Brown for his nauseating right-wing bias in reporting a student demo, and Robert Kilroy-Silk (who seems to have abolished himself, thus saving the state the trouble and expense). Brief custodial sentences would be handed out to anyone caught using the following clichés: at the end of the day, over the moon, level playing field, no probs, going forward, pushing the envelope, in the wrong place at the wrong time, drawing a line and moving on.
A system of fines would be instituted for people who say “refute” when they mean “rebut,” “floor” when they mean “ground” and “literally” when they don’t mean literally at all. People who think the phrase “to beg the question” means “to raise the question,” or who think “fortuitous” means “felicitous,” will be issued with a police caution. The promiscuous use of the word “potentially,” as in: “He’s potentially a candidate for the job,” will get you placed under 24-hour surveillance. Prizes will be awarded to those still able to use the colon.