The Australian author of this lively collection of essays about language is an amiable guide to his subject. "Amiable" is, however, a stiff adjective to use when describing Julian Burnside, QC, who praises HW Fowler, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), and Samuel Johnson for allowing their personalities to colour their writings about words. He mocks philologists for their dryness, dismisses "cherished superstitions" that remain popular with conservative querulists and describes an attempt to ban the use of "mate" from the Australian parliament in appropriately matey style.
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Saturday 27 March 2010
Here is a bit of grammar. The verbs "lie" and "lay", and their respective past tenses and past participles, are the occasion of endless confusion.
Tuesday 09 March 2010
Wednesday 03 March 2010
Monday 08 February 2010
Costa Rica's governing party candidate swept to an election victory today that made her the first woman president in the Central American nation.
Friday 15 January 2010
Saturday 03 October 2009
Wednesday 10 June 2009
When Jacqui Smith stepped down as Home Secretary last week she may have expected that the most toxic job in the Cabinet was behind her. But one man has not forgotten her.
Friday 27 February 2009
A bit like libertarian paternalism, a confused phrase that took off with all the talk of Nudging in Westminster last year (and cleverly interrogated by the masterful Jamie Whyte), "compulsory voluntary work" may be a very useful oxymoron. We should get used to it. Even promote the idea.
Wednesday 04 February 2009
Tuesday 03 February 2009
Friday 19 September 2008
Sunday 31 August 2008
In addressing the failure to date of the project to spread Western liberal values to the Middle East, Lee Harris doesn't argue as others have that the project is ill-conceived; merely that it is naive on two counts: it overestimates the potency and appeal of liberalism, and underestimates the effectiveness of Islamic fanaticism as an alternative cultural paradigm.
Wednesday 30 July 2008
In 1971, I responded to a Liberal party political broadcast, writes Jim Wallace [further to the obituary by Lord Wallace of Saltaire, 29 July]. The Scottish Liberal HQ sent me a copy of Russell Johnston's pamphlet "To Be a Liberal". I read it, and promptly joined the party. The examples used to illustrate points may be dated, but read the text today, and the statement of core Liberal values resonates with all the clarity and relevance that it did almost four decades ago.
Lord Russell-Johnston: Liberal MP for Inverness for more than 30 years who was an enthusiastic supporter of European integration
Tuesday 29 July 2008
Russell Johnston was a Liberal, an internationalist and a Scot, and passionate for all of these causes. He joined the Scottish Liberal Party when it was still tiny, won a seat which Scottish Liberalism's most colourful figure had failed to capture before him, and held it through eight elections over more than 30 years. He supported the 1988 merger with the Social Democrats, on condition that the word "Liberal" should remain in the merged party's title. A nominated member of the European Parliament when the UK first joined the European Community in the 1970s, he stood for the European Parliament in its first direct elections. Later, both from the Commons, and after 1997 from the Lords (as Baron Russell-Johnston), he became a leading member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and was its president from 1999 until 2002.
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