My Pet Hates

People Who Should Be Severely Reprimanded

Top of the list: Starbucks. This company professes to offer a traditional coffee-house ambience but what do you get? Polystyrene "cups", seats uncomfortably narrow, staff delivering their company-ordained patter in sing-song voices: "Lah-tay, Grahn-day ... ". People who are obliged to spout this drivel all day long should be handsomely paid; it must rot their very souls.
What we want is a place to relax, maybe sprawl a little, chat with friends and those contacts you won't find in the pub. A place where everybody, staff especially, knows your name.
With coffee-houses as with currency, Gresham's Law prevails. Break out the violins, wallow in nostalgia: there really were such places, kiddies, once upon a time. If you find one, make the most of it while you can.

RADIO ANNOUNCERS WHO use the "headline present tense" to tell you what's coming:

"Ten people die in house fire"

to which my response is "How often do they do that?"

OR "Tragedy in Sometown as train hits bus"

which makes you wonder who wrote the tragedy, how often it is performed, and at which theatre.

When speaking to someone, which is what radio announcers are doing, it is unnatural to talk in headline-ese; the rest of us say, and expect to hear:

"Ten people have died in a house fire"

OR "A train hit a bus in Sometown today - " and while casual informants would no doubt go on to tell us their reactions, reporters are supposed to give the facts and let their readers, and listeners, make up their own minds as to whether it was tragic, amusing or whatever.

Top marks to at least one BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester newsreader for resisting the temptation to follow the style of her national network colleagues, who universally use the "headline present tense".

WRITERS WHO use "bored of" instead of the usual, and expected, "bored by" or "bored with". (If you must use "of" then precede it with "fed up"). The Guardian's Readers' Editor recently promised that this usage had been banned - but in a fortnight it reappeared.

One could argue that as English is a fluid and constantly-evolving language, "bored of" is merely a new usage in the process of being adopted. But think about the meanings of the words - something bores us, therefore we are bored by it.

CRIMINALS WHO use etymology to disguise the seriousness of their offences.

Perverts, pederasts, child-molesters now shelter behind the self-chosen title of "paedophiles". This word is made from two Greek words meaning "child" and "lover of" ... aren't we all lovers of children, in the sense that we would seek to protect them from harm, to preserve their innocence, to nurture and guide them?

Abusers, bullies and psychopaths hide behind the mask of "loving" when they mean subjecting helpless, frightened children to adult lusts. We should not allow the guilty to fudge the issue by misusing the language.

While we're at it let's draw the distinction between abusing someone, meaning to insult them verbally, and molesting them which involves physical misuse.

And writers please note: a "child molester" would mean a molester who is a child; the term for adults who abuse their power is the hyphenated form, "child-molester", meaning a molester of children.

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