Lost for Words

John Humphys has been a familiar presence on British television for many years. These days, he presents Mastermind and Radio 4’s Today programme. Cardiff-born[1] Humprys has a passion for language, and a horror of its abuse and misuse, which is what prompted him to write this book, subtitled “The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language”.

As you might expect, it’s very well written, full of examples of bad, misleading and incoherent English. The worst examples come. as any Dilbert reader would expect, from the world of management. That would be bad enough in itself, but as idiotic management language (and thought) spreads into education, health care and government, the situation is getting worse. Language is used to conceal meaning, to avoid actual communication.

Humphrys has some very serious points to make, and makes them very well. But he also has a lot of fun in the process as he mocks some of the particularly bad examples of language mangling. Some of his favourite examples are his own errors, which he cheerfully admits to.

Lost for Words is well worth a read. It’ll give you a laugh, but it might also make you think a bit more about what that politician, manager or official really means….

[1] Like me :grin: