August catch-up: dress to impress, words to use more often, and the end of the internet

Our intrepid explorer returns from another expedition into cyberspace laden with goods


1. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. From Natalie Binder in early August.

2. The Catch-Up Service has nearly caught up with things you may have missed over the summer. We are now only a few days behind. We have got as far as Howard Jacobson’s essay in The Independent last weekend, based on noticing a fellow diner in a restaurant on holiday.

One important thing about the article is that Jacobson uses the word “behoof”, which is a Word That Ought to Be Used More Often. I have several more in my comment today for Independent Voices on the alleged takeover of our language by Americanisms. “Fortnight”, “thrice”, “gobbledygook” and “penury”.

That was not the place, but I could have gone on about gobbledygook, because it has a rival spelling. Chambers Dictionary prefers gobbledegook, although the “y” spelling is more common. Not only that, its first use, according to Google Ngram, which searches a database of digitised books, was in 1931 with a “y”; the “e” spelling was first recorded the following year.

3. Another word for my Top 10 Words That Ought to Be Used More Often is fungible. Only Richard Clarke, one of my correspondents, thought it a candidate for a forthcoming Top 10 inspired by Boris Johnson’s bid for the Uxbridge nomination. I asked for new entries for the Uxbridge English Dictionary, of definitions designed to confuse tourists. He suggested fungible meant “interchangeable with mushrooms”.

4. Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, once featured on my Top 10 Most Interesting Politicians. She gave a speech at Twitter HQ on 8 August about how computers have changed our lives and the possibilities of politics. Only a 13-minute video, and well worth watching.

5. While I was away, The Guardian carried a fine headline for my collection of Questions To Which The Answer Is No. “Is the internet ‘full’ and going to shut down?” Thanks to George Bouras.

6. Finally, from Chris Heaton-Harris:

Man goes to his GP.

Doctor says: “Go over to the window and stick your tongue out.”

Man asks: “Why?”

Dr says: “I don’t like my neighbours.”

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