Mind your language

When did we stop ‘tossing’ coins?

29 March 2014 9:00 am

What kind of scientists do school inspectors not need to be? ‘Inspectors don’t need to be rocket scientists.’ For what…

When Google can't help you

22 March 2014 9:00 am

‘Ask your telephone,’ said my husband satirically when I made an innocent enquiry on a point of fact. My telephone…

How 'de-escalate' escalated

15 March 2014 9:00 am

‘What we want to see,’ David Cameron said last week, ‘is a de-escalation.’ Or, as the Tanaiste of Ireland put…

Very bad poems on the Underground

8 March 2014 9:00 am

My husband was surprised by quite a bit when we travelled by Underground in London the other day. Although he…

Why does everything suddenly need 'resilience'?

1 March 2014 9:00 am

They were talking on the wireless about Brazilians in the flooded areas, or so I thought. Once the kettle had…

When Scotland goes, will England return?

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Who, my husband asked, expects every man will do his duty? He was responding to the interesting and important question…

A learned poet's mystifying mistakes

15 February 2014 9:00 am

I enjoy Poetry Please, but was shouting mildly at the wireless the other day when a northern woman poet was…

Lumpen’s journey from Marxism to nonsense

8 February 2014 9:00 am

A publisher, Kevin Mayhew, has written to The Tablet, which is not a computer journal but a weekly magazine of…

Big changes in little words

1 February 2014 9:00 am

I managed to grab the TLS last week before my husband stuffed it in his overcoat pocket and lost it…

Challenging 'challenging'

25 January 2014 9:00 am

‘Pistols at dawn,’ said my husband, flapping a pair of Marigold rubber gloves from the other side of the kitchen. ‘I don’t…

Where did ‘No justice, no peace’ come from?

18 January 2014 9:00 am

The chant No justice, no peace by supporters of Mark Duggan, the drug gangster shot dead by police in 2011,…

Dot Wordsworth: How online shopping is changing English

11 January 2014 9:00 am

How do you play the lottery? The National Lottery website has a handy guide. Step No. 1 is: ‘Go into…

Dot Wordsworth: Lost in England? Ask for a bread roll

4 January 2014 9:00 am

If Manchester University is to be believed, last year saw a creeping advance of effete southern language into the gritty…

Why twerking sounds so stupid

14 December 2013 9:00 am

The Widow Twankey first appeared on stage in 1861. At that time daily papers listed on Boxing Day dozens of novelty-stuffed…

Dot Wordsworth: Jostling aggressively with 'selfie' and 'twerk', we have 'push back'

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Something funny happened when my husband yawned. I yawned. That wasn’t the funny thing. The funny thing was that I…

Dot Wordsworth: Don't call him Revd Flowers!

30 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Here,’ said my husband, chucking a folded-back copy of the Daily Telegraph to me, ‘this’ll interest you.’ For once he…

Aunt

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Catching up with the excellent biography of the 3rd Marquess of Bute (the man who built Cardiff Castle among other…

Dot Wordsworth: Is M&S really 'Magic & Sparkle'?

16 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Believe in Magic & Sparkle,’ says the Marks & Spencer television Christmas advertisement. The phrase is meant to suggest the…

Collagen

9 November 2013 9:00 am

I saw an advertisement for Active Gold Collagen, and I realised I didn’t know what collagen means. My husband just…

The week in words: 'Pull & Bear' is all style, no substance

2 November 2013 9:00 am

‘This’ll make you laugh,’ said my husband, sounding like George V commenting on an Impressionist painting. ‘Someone in the Telegraph…

The bare-brained youth of south London

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘Bare? Extra? What does it all mean?’ asked my husband, sounding like George Smiley in the middle of a particularly…

Word of the Week: Does it matter who uses the N-word?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

The BBC is to broadcast what is now referred to as the ‘C-word’ in a drama about Dylan Thomas. ‘It…

The week in words: When politicians use 'hard-working'

12 October 2013 9:00 am

In his New Year message for 1940, Joseph Goebbels complained that the ‘warmongering cliques in London’ hated the German people…

Dot Wordsworth's week in words: Did William Empson have the first clue what 'bare ruined choirs' meant?

5 October 2013 9:00 am

I am shocked to find that William Empson, famous for his technique of close reading, was no good at reading…

Word of the Week: If your jacket isn't blazing, don't call it a 'blazer'

28 September 2013 9:00 am

‘It’s not right, is it?’ said Veronica, pointing to a poster for H&M women’s blazers at £17.I agreed. But she…