This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Minister for the Eighteenth Century: a rant.

Britain has a long and glorious tradition of eccentrics, and now, to add to the bounty, we have Jacob Rees Mogg. 

Mr Rees-Mogg is a Member of Parliament (and is known, mostly affectionately, as the Member for the Eighteenth Century). He has been recently elevated to the position of Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council.

In what way is Mr Rees-Mogg eccentric? There isn't room here to make a list, but let me just say that he admits cheerfully to having taken his nanny (that is, the lady paid to look after him when he was a child) on political canvassing expeditions. (Though I'm not sure that Mr Rees-Mogg would approve of the trip's being called an expedition as the ped in the middle of the word tends to imply that the journey was done on foot, and it's said (with how much truth I do not know) that he actually used his Daimler.)

Anyway, Mr Rees-Mogg has provided his new government department with a list of rules to be applied to official correspondence. Some of these rules are matters of taste, some of them are matters of convention; some of them logically justifiable, some of them aren't.

Here they are in full.

  • Organisations are SINGULAR
  • All non-titled males - Esq.
  • There is no . after Miss or Ms*
  • M.P.s - no need to write M.P. after their name in body of text

  • Male M.P.s (non-privy councillors) - in the address they should have Esq., before M.P. (e.g Tobias Ellwood, Esq., M.P.)

  • Double space after fullstops
  • No comma after 'and'
  • CHECK your work
  • Use imperial measurements

Banned words/phrases

  • Very
  • Due to
  • Ongoing
  • Hopefully
  • Unacceptable
  • Equal
  • Too many 'I's
  • Yourself
  • Lot
  • Got
  • Speculate
  • 'invest' (in schools etc)
  • No longer fit for purpose
  • I am pleased to learn
  • Meet with
  • Ascertain
  • Disappointment 
  • I note/understand your concern

Actually, I think it's all rather sweet, in a British-eccentric sort of a way.

Two particular comments:

First, don't put two spaces after a full stop in any manuscript sent to a publisher. Most of them hate it!

Second, the no comma after the word and rule. Well, how about this sentence?

The elderly actor finished his plate of fried eggs and old ham that he was bowed to the ladies as he left the room.

A comma (in fact two) would have helped there, wouldn't it?

Word To Use Today: now, are you a rebel or not? If you are, the word speculate is quite interesting. It comes from the Latin specula, a watchtower, from specere to look at.

*The third rule, There is no . after Miss and Ms is, I suspect, an example of the exception that proves the rule, the implication being that the abbreviation Mr should have a full stop. I don't agree, myself - and I spell full stop as two words - but, hey, if it keeps Mr. Rees-Mogg happy...

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