10 Rules for the Care and Proper Use of English


The English language is out of control. New words are invented every nanosecond and English is being buried beneath mounds of spin. The bottom line is that no-one knows what anyone is talking about because of our persistent overuse of cliches. And it has to stop.

Fortunately, for future generations, I have drawn up a set of Rules for the Care and Proper Use of the English Language.

Rule 1: A new word can be invented if, and only if, it does not cost us more money. You know how this works. First there was television, B&W. Then came colour telly, VCRs, cable, DVD players and HDD thingummys. Now any new words for your viewing pleasure will set you back $5000.

Rule 2: An acronym can be used if it cannot be confused with other acronyms. Take MS, SM and SMS. The first is a disease, the second sadomasochism and the third a disease which causes sadomasochism with a phone. The confusion continues with PIN numbers, BAS statements and the GPS systems. We need an acronym cull. Get rid of the long winded WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Try DCWYSGF (don't care what you see get f---ed).

Rule 3: Anyone who uses a cliche from the following list shall be taken outside and beaten with a baseball bat: think outside the square, win-win situation, bottom line, moving forward, state-of-the-art, the real world, better than sex, the new black, easy-to-follow instructions, simple to install, we value your custom.

Rule 4: The military will be banned from using the English language to say stupid things. Banned terms include friendly fire, neutralise, pacify and oops.

Rule 5: New terms for the word "drunk" cannot be invented. We have enough terms already. Euphemisms include sloshed, sozzled, ripped, demolished, hammered and befuggered. Add the Aussie terms like pissed, rat-faced and legless and you have The Drunks' Word-a-Day Calendar.

Rule 6: Generations are banned from trying to outdo previous generations with terms for "cool". "Hip" was once "cool". Now "cool" isn't as "cool" as "hot". And someone who is "hot" and "cool" is a "hipster". It all gets too confusing.

Rule 7: The invention of new anatomical terms is banned. Each new term gives us another bit of anatomy to worry about. Women never worried about cellulite until someone invented the word. Ditto abs, pecs and quads. A bloke only had to have muscles before. Now he must know each muscle by its nickname.

Rule 8: Swear words shall be classified by a committee: GA (get arrested), AO (almost OK) and GU (general use). We need to know which words are officially offensive. When I was a kid, we had our mouths washed out with soap for saying words that they print on T-shirts and sell on coffee mugs today. Bugger, for instance.

Rule 9: Words cannot be pinched from one area and used in another. Take the word "gay". Homosexuals stole it from happy folk. Now school kids think it is bad. Which is it? IT guys took words from cooks (Apple, cookie, chip and spam). One meaning per word is enough.

Rule 10: American-speak should be gagged. They keep inventing stupid, possibly evil, words. Try "bridalplasty". It's the facelift a girl gets before her wedding. They've also given us bromance, frenemy and staycation. Arrgh! ■


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