The Essay, Radio 3, Monday-Friday
Word of Mouth, Radio 4, Tuesday

In the interests of linguistic precision: don't get off until it stops

Andrew Martin has written very amusingly for this paper, often on matters Yorkshire-related. He's even funnier on the radio, it turns out, with his Bennettesque vowels and his tiny but crucial pauses and emphases.

He bestrode The Essay from Monday to Friday with his wry ruminations on noise – to which, as a phonophobe, his ears are finely tuned, the poor bloke. Barking dogs, piped pop music, planes, railway announcements, they are all, to Martin, forms of torture. Fortunately for us, he can see the funny side.

His novels are set on the Edwardian railway network, and Wednesday's instalment was clearly a double-edged sword – he loves trains but hates the tannoyed updates. Not just the aural quality; he bridles at linguistic redundancy: "personal belongings", "platform surfaces", and my particular bugbear, "station stop ... presumably to prevent people attempting to alight at a stop which is not a station or a station which is not a stop."

He compares it with Swiss railways, on which "a voice says 'Bern', quite tersely ... You're left to your own devices as to what you should do with your personal belongings – perhaps you'll take them with you, perhaps you'll scatter them about the train before alighting."

Tuesday's was about music, which he especially hates in banks and building societies: "If I were a musician I'd be annoyed to learn that my art was being used to drown out the sound of someone applying for an extension to their overdraft." I could go on quoting; instead I advise you to get an earful of Martin via the iPlayer.

Like The Essay, Word of Mouth is a dependable delight, and on Wednesday Michael Rosen investigated the portrayal of teenagers on TV. He spoke to writers on the EastEnders yoof spin-off E20, who go round on buses listening for conversational nuggets, and one of the writers on Skins, who bring in teenagers for a chat to see what they say and how they say it.

But fascinating though all this was, the most entertaining part of the show was the second item, Rosen's chat about the ubiquitous misuse of the word "literally" with the self-styled Literally Tsar, Paul Parry, who has a touring show based on his obsession. My personal all-time favourite example was in the Olympic cycling one year, when the TV commentator Hugh Porter remarked of the man closing in on the leader, "He's literally eating up the ground between them!"

A comedic sideline is making "literallys" literally come true: Parry started out by literally going from A to B (a village in Norway and a village in Nebraska); since then he's literally taught an old dog new tricks, and he's literally been to Hell and back (it's another village in Norway), and it was literally frozen over. "I met the mother-in-law from Hell and the neighbours from Hell," he said. "It was quite an amusing afternoon."

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'