“If the meaning you wish to convey is ‘tiny’, the word you should use is ‘tiny’”
Continuing, by popular demand, my series of celebrity endorsements of The Banned List book.
Peter Kellner, the President of YouGov (right), who taught me 95 per cent of everything I know about political journalism (with a margin of error of three percentage points) when he was political editor of the New Statesman, writes to check whether the following phrases are on the List:
“Top down” and “one size fits all” (except when referring to clothing sold by Millets) – and an especially painful punishment when both are used together to criticise any party’s policy.
He should be pleased to know that they are both there. So is “bottom up”.
Oh, and “Yeah, right” to mean “I don’t believe it but can’t be bothered to check the facts” (see almost any Ron Liddle column).
He then has a more controversial proposal:
“Minuscule” means lower-case type, not tiny. It is the opposite of majuscule, which means capital letters. As Harry Evans once put it in a memo to Sunday Times staff, “If the meaning you wish to convey is ‘tiny’, the word you should use is ‘tiny’.”
I am not sure about the definitions, which stray into pedantry rather than the banning of irritating jargon and cliché. (To call Kellner, or anyone else, pedantic is, however, I should remind you, the highest compliment.) And a more prosaic objection to minuscule is that it is often misspelt. So minuscule is best avoided, but it is not going on the Banned List. The use of majuscule, however, is henceforth compulsory.
Make your own nominations in the comments or on Twitter #bannedlist.Tagged in: banned list
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