Regular readers will know I have something of a bee in my bonnet about ‘less’ being used instead of ‘fewer’. However, I’ve conceded things aren’t going to change and that wrong usage (“less people”) has become standard. And, therefore, correct by way of custom and practice. Nonetheless, it was dispiriting to hear last night the ex English football team manager, Glen Hoddle, introducing the expression “lesser and lesser” into the English language. As I recall, he was sacked for suggesting disabled people had done something wrong in a previous life. I trust he’ll be coming back as a cockroach in his next incarnation.
I mentioned yesterday that the writer of the Camino book had taken a huge liking to Spain, contrasting it favourably with Anglo societies in which too much has been lost through economic determinism. Or, as he calls it, the tyranny of the market-dominated mind. While I agree with him on this, I must confess to finding it ironic he doesn’t mention his Australian compatriot who has done so much to screw up Anglo society through the medium of his abysmal tabloid rags – one Rupert Murdoch. But I guess the writer is, after all, an ex-diplomat.
Interestingly enough, we had an example today of where, here in Galicia, a bit of economic determinism might not have gone amiss. Instead of strengthening one of our airports so it can compete effectively with Oporto’s huge new international facility, the Xunta is doling out new routes between the three of them. The short straw appears to have gone to the most central of these, Santiago, where the town council is said to be rather unhappy with this example of café para todos, or something for everybody. The good news is that negotiations are still taking place with Ryanair. Who can probably be expected to take a view that is more hard-nosed commercial than political. If they ever reach a deal with the Xunta.
Decades ago, George Orwell noted that the abuse of words in political discourse robbed them of all meaning. The most obvious current example is ‘progressive’, a label assiduously claimed by both sides of the political divide. But it’s perhaps the word ‘community’ which has been most devalued over recent years. Witness this priceless statement:- Detective Inspector N said ‘I appeal to anyone in the community who has any information to come forward, including those from the criminal community’.
Incidentally, I saw this in the latest edition of Private Eye, next to a cartoon showing one dragon fly saying to another – “For God’s sake – you only live 24 hours and you’ve spent 23 of them writing a blog about it.” Try as I might, I just can’t see anything funny about this . . .