Know Your Plurals

One of my longstanding clients owns a lovely catering and sandwich delivery business in London.? Just looking at the pictures of his luscious food platters makes my tummy rumble – and this happens at least once a month when I sit down and write his latest newsletter.

This month I was focusing on his range of patisserie platters.? Portuguese custard tarts, croissants, fruit tartlettes and chocolate éclairs are amongst the delicious snacks that are offered as are those French pastries with the chocolate in the middle.

Now, I know that it’s called a pain au chocolat.? And I did French ‘A’ level (admittedly *many* years ago) and so I should probably have known that more than one of them would be ‘pains au chocolat’.? But it got me thinking: sometimes plurals aren’t quite what we expect, are they?

So, here are some

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plural oddities, just in case you’re ever writing about more than one formula or Attorney General.

Plural oddities

One of the most common mistakes that writers make is to simply add an ‘s’ to the end of a noun to pluralise it.? While that may work with a cat, a key or a football, it won’t necessarily work in all cases.

Jobs are a common source of confusion as, quite often, they don’t follow a pattern.? For example, you might have several brigadier generals, judge advocates or lieutenant colonels.? However, there may be a different group of attorneys general, sergeants major, paymasters general and notaries public.

You see the problem?

And it’s not just jobs that can cause confusion.? If you’re dealing with more than one pelvis, it’ll be pelves.? More than one bandit?? Banditti.? And more than one cannon?? Cannon.

Here’s a list of a few unusual pluralised words, just in case you’re ever writing for a company that sells piccolos or oxen.

Daughter-in-law? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Daughters-in-law

Potato? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

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? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Potatoes (that’s for Dan Quayle, that one)

Opus? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Opera

Teaspoonful? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Teaspoonfuls

Mister? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Messrs.

Table d’hote? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Tables d’hote

Manservant? ? ?

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? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Menservants

Ox? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Oxen

Cul-de-sac? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Culs-de-sac

Crisis? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Crises

Court martial? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Courts martial

Formula? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Formulae

Piccolo? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Piccolos

Please share any other unusual plurals in the comments below…

Get with the program(me)

One of my current projects is to rewrite the website of one of the region’s biggest motor companies.? This morning, I was looking at their ‘About Us’ pages when I happened upon some information about their Customer Care Program.

It got me thinking.? Is it a Customer Care Program in the UK?? Or a Customer Care Programme?

Program or Programme?

Apparently, the word ‘program’ was predominantly used in the UK until the 19th century, when the spelling ‘programme’ became more common — mainly as a result of influence from French, which has the same word ‘programme’.

So, if you’re using the word in British English, they you should almost always use ‘programme’.

The one exception is when you are referring

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to the word in the context of computing.? A computer program should always be the shorter version of the word.

So, in British English:

  • You can take advantage of our Customer Care Programme
  • I can’t get this program to run on my PC
  • My favourite television programme is Doctor Who

However, if you’re writing in American English you should always use the word ‘program’, whatever the context.? The same is generally true of Australian English, where ‘program’ is also mainly used (although ‘programme’ is still in common usage).

So, if you want someone to ‘get with the program’, you probably want to be using the American version.? Or don’t use that horrible phrase at all, of course.

As a verb

Using the word as a verb follows much the same rules.

If you want to tell your computer to do something, you will program it.? For example, ‘it is easy to program this PC’.

However, if you’re using British English and want to programme anything else, use the longer version.? For example ‘the next stage of the plan is programmed for next year’.

So, my

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clients now have a Customer Care Programme.? Lovely.

Inquiry or Enquiry?

I mentioned a week or so ago that one of my aims for 2012 was to avoid blithely using terms and words that I assumed were right and actually undertake a bit of research to check I was using them correctly.

Last time I looked at the correct usages of ‘while’ and ‘whilst’ and this time I thought I’d double check I was using ‘inquiry’ and ‘enquiry’ in the right places.? Are they interchangeable?? Or do they mean different things?

Inquiry or enquiry?

As with many of these things, the simple answer is ‘either’.? For example, the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary presents the two spellings as interchangeable variants in the general sense.

However, there is a subtle difference between the two terms.

In the UK, ‘enquiry’ is generally a term that is used to refer to ‘the act of questioning’, such as:

  • He enquired about her health
  • I made an enquiry about the price of a ticket

‘Inquiry’, however, is more commonly used when referring to a formal investigation, such as:

  • There will be a public inquiry into the riots
  • The police are making inquiries about the incident

A simple way to remember which to use is to consider that an ‘inquest’ (an official investigation) is related to ‘inquiry’.

Just to confuse you (of course): if you are writing in American or Australian English, inquiry is normally the correct word, irrespective of the circumstances.

Have you any examples of when ‘inquiry’ or ‘enquiry’ might be correct, or suggestions for seemingly interchangeable terms that I can consider in this feature?? Let me know in the comments below.

While-ing away the hours

Hello, and Happy New Year to you.

I rarely make specific New Year’s Resolutions. To be honest, I find the idea a bit silly, and I rarely keep to them anyway.? What I do sometimes, however, is use the New Year to make a concerted effort to change small things.? Perhaps I’ll cook at home a bit more.? Perhaps I’ll drink a bit less.? And, this year, I plan to try and spend a bit of time learning more about my trade.

So, I’m planning to become a better writer by gobbling up the advice of many other talented people and by improving my general standard of English.? I reckon it’s already pretty good, but learning some new words and making better use of the words I do know are two of my aims for 2012.

And, along the way, I hope to share some of what I learn (which may, of course, be second nature to you anyway…!)

While v whilst

It dawned on me over Christmas that I wasn’t sure what the difference is between ‘while’ and ‘whilst’.? I always thought that ‘while’ related

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specifically to two things happening at the same time (‘he watched TV while she knitted a scarf’) whereas ‘whilst’ was a term with a meaning more like ‘whereas’.

Anyway, after a bit of research it turns out that the terms are generally interchangeable – at least when you are using British English.? American English doesn’t tend to include ‘whilst’ and so if you’re writing for a US audience, the advice is to only ever use ‘while’.

If you’re writing for a British audience, using ‘while’ will also generally mean that you won’t be wrong.

With the word gradually dying, though, I am keen to keep it healthy!? There are three pieces of advice I have found which are useful:

i) ‘while’ can be a noun (‘in a while’) whereas ‘whilst’

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ii) ‘while’ can mean either ‘during the time when’ or ‘whereas’ while ‘whilst’ has only the first of these meanings

iii) ‘while is often used for activities happening in parallel (‘While I was preparing lunch, my wife was gardening’) whereas, in contrast, ‘whilst’ is used where there is more of a contradiction (‘Whilst it may be necessary or desirable to protect populations from cruel and corrupt governments, it is not necessarily our business to undertake regime change.’)

So, it seems that there isn’t much of an issue using either word when writing for a British audience.? And, taking point iii) into account, it appears I was pretty much right after all….

Anyone else have experiences or advice on the best way to use ‘while’ and ‘whilst’?

Pay less: get more – the vagaries of Boots’ pricing

I’ve been into Boots this week to get some photographs developed.? Choosing their 24 hour service, I selected the photos I wanted by using their little touchscreen machine.

Now, there were quite a lot of pictures that I needed and once I was finished, I noted that I’d chosen 119 photos at a total cost of £17.85 (a 6” X 4” photo cost 15p).

It was a bit more than I wanted to pay, so I glanced at the price list to see if there was a cheaper option.? It was then I noticed their ‘super saver’ offer.? This offer boasted a reduced charge of 5p per print if I ordered more 200 photos or more.

I looked at the price list and did a bit of mental arithmetic in my head.? It doesn’t take Carol Vorderman to work out that 200 photos at 5p each costs, er, £10.? I puzzled this for a moment, and then added a further 81 prints to my order (mostly duplicates of existing photos that I’d chosen which I didn’t really want).

Sure enough, when I’d selected 200 photos, my total bill came to £10.? So, I completed my order, took my receipt and will be heading to pick them up later this week.

I’m still utterly perplexed by this pricing policy.

I’d have been happy to pay 5p a photo for my 119 prints.? Hell, I’d have been happy to pay £10 for the 119 prints that I wanted.? But no – to get this price I had to order 81 additional photographs which, frankly, I may as well lob in the bin as soon as I pick them up.

I do understand reducing the ‘per unit’ cost to encourage people to spend more money.? However, shouldn’t the point of such pricing be to increase my total spend, not decrease it?? For example, if I’d been offered the 200 prints for, say, £20, I may well have paid the additional £2.15 to

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benefit from a better deal.? But, to save £7.85 by ordering 81 additional photos seems utterly bizarre.

66 photos at their price of 15p costs £9.90.? Between 67 and 199 photos costs you somewhere between £10.05 and £29.85. ? Then, the cost of 200 photos reduces to £10.? Indeed, 596 photos

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would actually cost less than 199 photos using this pricing policy.

Anyone explain this to me? Clearly there aren’t huge economies of scale to be had by ordering a larger number of prints.? How can I order nearly 70% more product and reduce my total spend by 44%?

Bonkers.

The Quandary Of Examples

Providing examples of your work is nothing new in business.

Drive through any housing estate and you’re likely to see signs adjacent to beautifully paved driveways, well appointed extensions and beautifully coiffured lawns by companies proud to show off their work.? And, I suppose that if you were planning to have your loft converted then you might have a peek at your chosen builder’s most recent job to check that rainwater isn’t streaming down the wall of the en-suite.

And, not unreasonably, when I speak to new clients many of them ask me to point them in the direction of websites I have written or ask me to e-mail them examples of my work.? You’ve probably had to do the same thing at some point.

What I am

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increasingly wary of, however, are clients who, after a meeting or conversation, then provide me with a couple of topics and ask me to write something specifically for them.? The argument is always that they want to be sure I can write the copy they need before they employ my services.

Now, this happened to me a week or two ago and I spent a good part of one morning coming up with some dedicated copy for a client.? This followed a telephone conversation, a meeting and the provision of some links to websites and pieces I had written in the past.

In the misguided assumption that I was imminently to be hired, I duly provided some copy.? Then, two days later, I received a message thanking me but telling me that they ‘were interviewing other people’ and that they would be in touch.

This whole episode has put me off writing any specific examples for clients again.? Should I provide my time for free?? I’m not sure.? If I wanted my car MOT’d, I wouldn’t ask the garage to change the oil filter for me first just so I could double check they did a decent job, would I?

So, what do you do in this situation?? Are you happy to provide sample copy? Or, do

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you refer clients to work you have previously concluded and ask clients to make their decision based on these examples?? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

10 Writing Errors That Make You Want To Poke Your Own Eyes Out

You don’t have to be a copywriter or author to be annoyed by hideous grammatical and spelling mistakes.? If you’re like me, you can’t help yourself but cringe at horrible written blunders, even when you’re out in town on a Sunday afternoon.

Now, I don’t profess to be completely right all of the time.? I use too many commas and I daresay I have used ‘inquire’ and ‘enquire’ wrongly more than once.? However, these ten errors are those which I – and many of you – have identified as the ones which make you want to poke your own eyes out.

Whose? Yours or theirs?

A friend of mine posted this photograph to Twitter last week with the caption ‘leaving cake fail!’

Now, I suppose this related to the rather sarcastic tone of the message, however for me (and no doubt many of you reading this) the ‘fail’ could only relate to one thing.

It’s not that there’s a missing question mark at the end of ‘Justin who….’ but rather the ‘sorry your leaving’ at the top.

Man alive.? Your, you’re. Their, there, they’re.? Who’s, whose?? All regular errors and when they occur, it’s like hearing someone scrape their fingernails down a blackboard.

(thanks also to @PenStar_words for this suggestion)

Making nouns out of words that aren’t nouns

Over recent years, the English language appears to be evolving to invent nouns that aren’t actually nouns.

I first encountered this phenomenon on an East Midlands Trains service to London.? Having bought a first class ticket (I know. How bourgeois) the train person came wandering up the aisle with a basket of biscuits and assorted other goodies.? On arriving at my table, she asked me ‘if I’d like any complimentaries?’

What’s a ‘complimentary’?? Yes, I’ll have some complimentary biscuits, but I won’t have a complimentary, ta, as that word clearly doesn’t exist.

I also noticed the other week that people have started sending out ‘invites’ to events.? Again, I was aware I could invite someone to a party, but not that I could send them an invite.? Silly me.? I have been sending invitations all this time.

Do you have any more examples of nouns that aren’t nouns?

Apostrophised plurals

If you have more than one of something, it a) doesn’t indicate a missing letter or b) suggest someone owns it.

In fact, if you’re pluralising something, you don’t need an apostrophe at all.? If in doubt, stick an ‘s’ on the end.? Or, alternatively, why not use a dictionary to look it up?

(thanks to @TheStevenThomas for this one)

Shoulda, woulda, coulda

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda warbled Beverley Knight as she reached the top ten with this hit back in 2002.? At least Bev had the idea to shorten the three phrases into some sort of daft urban slang, rather than calling the song Should Of, Would Of, Could Of which, I imagine, is what most

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people would call it today.

It’s ‘should have’ and ‘could have’, people.? Or, if you really want,

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‘should’ve’ and ‘could’ve’.

(thanks to @TheWordWell)

I AM QUITE SERIOUS

Again, this is a relatively new phenomenon.? As @PenStar_Words says: “What really makes me cringe is when someone’s writing something angry/defensive/righteously indignant and to get the point across, they make

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it full of spelling, punctuation and grammar errors and in all capitals.”

It can’t be just me that finds that when someone is talking to you online with their CAPS LOCK on it MAKES IT SOUND AS IF THEY ARE YELLING DOWN A MEGAPHONE AT YOU?? Did Caitlin Moran start this with her ‘SCREAM!’ style of Twittering?? Or did someone accidentally write in capitals one day and realised it so upset their readers that capital letters are the new SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE?

Either way, yuk. STOP. NOW.

Every now and than

It’s important that you use the right word, as the meanings of some are different than others.? (You know the noise you make when you rub polystyrene pieces against one another?? That.)

It’s different from, not different than.

Similarly, I’ve seen people use ‘then’ instead of ‘than’.? “We had more problems then they did.”? Did you?? Did you really?

Isn’t it funny! Yes! Everything’s funny!

I have lost count of the websites I have helped rewrite where one of the first steps I have taken is to ask the company to remove all the exclamation marks from their copy.

Come and buy our new products! You’ll get a special discount! 10%!

Your website isn’t the script for an episode of Are You Being Served? It’s supposed to be a serious marketing tool promoting your products and services.? If you have something good to say, be bold and say it.? Don’t hide behind an exclamation mark.

I dreamt a dream

As a wise man once said, “steer clear of incorrect verb forms that have snuck into the language.”

Whether they are entirely incorrect is open to debate (lots are more commonly used in American English) but I don’t much care for them.? I still think Susan Boyle should have dreamt a dream, not dreamed one.? Have I spelled her name right, or spelt it right?

Sometimes, they get even more bizarre.? I have seen the past participle of ‘bring’ as ‘bought’ and the past participle of ‘light’ as ‘lighted’.

Mind you, I have had arguments with people about the past participle of ‘earn’.? People often assume that it follows the same pattern as ‘learn/learnt’, although I have to say I don’t consider ‘earnt’ a word (and neither does my spellchecker).

Checking it, it’s apparently ‘non-standard’ rather than incorrect.? Still, I don’t like it.

Commerical mistakes

If you Google the word ‘commerical’ you get about 69,700,000 results.? Need I say more?

(thanks to @yourmindandwe for that one)

‘Fresh’ and ‘new’

Billy Connolly once performed a routine where he poked fun at people that make quotation marks with their fingers when speaking.? We’ve all done it; normally, in my experience, for the word we use following the adjective ‘so-called’.

Well, this trend seems to have crossed over into written language.? It’s not uncommon now to see people describing their products and services as ‘brilliant’ and ‘cheap’.? You don’t have to put these adjectives in quotation marks – we do know what they mean.

Still. Perhaps I’m just being ‘picky’.

_______________________________________

So, come on then.? What are your pet writing/grammar hates?? Are there any from the above list particularly bug you, or are there other mistakes that make you die inside….?? Please let me know in the comments below (and please do correct the ironic mistakes I am bound to have made in a post about written errors…)

Is Twitter Too Big?

Have you ever had your Twitter feed throttled by the sheer volume of tweets being posted on a particular topic?

Well, it seems that a new Twitter record has been set this week. The social networking service has confirmed that the Women’s World Cup Final has become the most tweeted event in the site’s five year history.

The Guardian reports that ‘the dramatic end to the women’s final, as Japan equalised with three minutes of extra-time remaining and went on to win on penalties, produced a record 7,196 tweets per second (TPS).’

Shortly after, a new second place record was set for ‘tweets per second’ as the Copa America quarter final between Brazil and Paraguay – again resulting in a surprise defeat for the favourites – resulted in 7,166 TPS.
The previous record was set on New Year’s Eve in Japan in 2010 which hit

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6,939 TPS at its peak. The 2011 Super Bowl saw 4,064 TPS while the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge saw 3,966 TPS at its

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peak.

Keeping up with your Twitter feed is increasingly a struggle

With a couple of hundred people in my ‘following’ list on Twitter, there’s no denying that my enjoyment of major events has been enhanced over recent months by the additional comment in my Twitter feed. Tweets about the Royal Wedding, the Eurovision Song Contest and

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the recent News of the World scandal have all made me chuckle as they have popped up in my timeline.

However, despite having a regular cull of people I follow (come on – we all do it!) I still find myself following more and more people as time goes on. Friends, copywriting colleagues, celebrities, sportspeople, local businesses, Nottingham listings/guides/tourism and musicians are all amongst the people I follow, and I’m broadly interested in all they have to say.

With 600,000 new users signing up to Twitter daily, has it already reached the stage where trying to keep tabs of what is going on is too difficult and sharing large events through a hashtag is pointless? At its peak the Women’s World Cup Final was producing over 400,000 tweets a minute. I don’t know about you, but with just a couple of hundred people in my feed I’m already starting to struggle to keep up as it is.

Is it time for Twitter to develop to make it easy to manage our feed? And, are the growing numbers of people sharing their thoughts about major world events (or football matches) contributing to a shared sense of global community? Or, are we at the stage where the volume of tweets is simply too high for Twitter to be valuable anymore?

Join the conversation – I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

The Mary Poppins Guide to Copywriting

For forty five years, children and adults alike have been spellbound by the story of the world’s favourite nanny, Mary Poppins.? While the main purpose of her flying visit (pun intended) was to repair the fractured relationship between Jane and Michael Banks and their uptight, stuffy father, the supernanny also taught the children important lessons about priorities, how to behave and, of course, the basics of copywriting.

Well, I can’t be sure the last bit is exactly what P.L. Travers or Walt Disney intended, but, you have to admit, Poppins was something of a copywriting guru.

A Spoonful Of Sugar

For every task that must be done, there is an element of fun.? It’s not a song about cleaning up the nursery; it is one of the basic rules of copywriting.? You have to give the reader a personal benefit.

A spoonful of sugar in itself doesn’t sound all that appealing.? Even if it were described as an ‘award winning spoonful of sugar from a company that’s been in business 35 years’ it still doesn’t really offer you anything of any value.

However, a spoonful of sugar that will help you by making your medicine go down?? Now you’re talking.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious. ? Wise words, indeed. ? Copywriting isn’t a game of ‘spot how clever you are’ – it is a game of making people understand what you are saying.

You might know that your product is a great tasting beverage; to others it’s merely a drink.? You might want to purchase or acquire something; most of us just buy it.? And, you might be offering customers the very best ‘flexible, reusable storage solution’ but a four year old will tell you that it is just a cardboard box.

If you are writing a University essay or something for the Financial Times, then let your vocabulary run riot.? If not, the sound of ii will be something quite atrocious.

Stay Awake/I Love to Laugh

Copy is not designed as a cure for insomnia.? ? ? It is supposed to engage readers; to make them interested and excited about your product or service.? Too many websites contain long, boring descriptions of product features that are neither customer focused or in the slightest bit interesting.

Make your copy snappy, personal, amiable and, in some cases, funny.? The more you laugh, the more you fill with glee; the more the glee, the more we’re a merrier we.

A British Bank

…is run with precision (well, at least it was in 1910, perhaps not so much today).? A British home, requires nothing less.? And, of course, a copywriting agency also requires accuracy and precision.

Tradition, discipline, and rules must be the tools, without them – disorder! Catastrophe! Anarchy! In short, we have a ghastly mess!

Make sure that you double and triple check all your work before letting a client see it.? Proof read and spell check it – and even get a colleague to have a look over it to pick up on any errors that you might have missed.? If a client finds a mistake in your work, your integrity is instantly damaged as they will immediately wonder what other blunders they haven’t spotted.

So, follow all of Poppins’ rules and both you and your clients will be happy.? They will improve their web traffic and sales, and you will be free to, oh, I don’t know – go fly a kite?? Feed the birds, maybe…?

……………………………………………

Nick Parkhouse is a professional writer. If you need web copy, articles, books or press releases, get in touch with Nick now at info@nickparkhouse.com

Nick’s first book, 101 Forgotten Pop Hits of the 1980s, is also now available through Author House, Amazon and Waterstones.

The Top 10 Words Of 2010

What are the defining words of 2010?

The Oxford University Press comes up with a ‘word of the year’ every year.? Expanded in recent years to include short phrases, ‘Big Society’ was last week announced as the word of 2010, following in the footsteps of ‘jegging’ ‘bovvered’, ‘staycation’ and ‘credit crunch’ as recent winners.

So, what ten words best describe 2010?? Here’s my list.

1. Austerity

If there was one watchword for 2010, this was it.? In economic terms, ‘austerity’ is where a government reduces its spending or increases its revenue to cut a budget deficit.? However, in more general terms, ‘austerity’ refers to a ‘period of self-denial’ and that is more telling a definition of a term that has affected millions of us this year.

From the Government’s economic policy to falling retail sales, a reluctance to spend money has defined 2010.

2. Like

It happened this week.? My six year old, for the first time, inserted a completely unnecessary ‘like’ into a sentence.? “I was, like, ‘stop it!’”.

‘Like’ is everywhere (and, not just as one of a set of binary choices you have to respond to the gazillion things you read on Facebook every year).? Its superfluous use in conversation is getting worse and, like, amazing.? It seems to have replaced a plethora of other great and less vanilla words/terms such as ‘admire’, ‘respect’, ‘fancy’ and ‘was amused by’.

“I like him.”? What exactly does that mean? Do you enjoy his music? Are you inspired by him?? Do you fancy him?? Do you respect his views on capital punishment?

The campaign starts here.? ‘Like’ has to go.

3. Coalition

Plenty of democratic, progressive and successful countries have been governed by coalitions.? New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden and Canada have long managed perfectly successfully with governments made up from more than one political party.

However, 2010 was the year that the UK got a coalition.? The way it was reported, you’d have thought the world was going to end (and, to be fair, it still might).? Whatever your political views on the surprising constituent parts of the ruling elite, 2010 was the year that the ‘government’ became the ‘coalition government’.

4. Twitter

2010 was the year that Twitter firmly landed in the mainstream.? Far from being a personal network for the world’s Justin Bieber fans, Twitter not only made the news but also helped create the news.

2010 was the year that news stories became generated by tweets (Stephen Fry throwing a strop and leaving, for example), the news started including tweets in its analysis (not a good sign, clearly) and Twitter itself became the centre of a major court ruling affecting freedom of speech and terrorism.

The new MySpace, or something more enduring?

5. Bigot

Arguably the defining moment of the 2010 General Election, Gordon Brown’s ‘bigot’ gaffe was one of the highest profile political cock-ups in recent memory.

Whilst the word might be associated with Brown for the foreseeable future, the fact that I played the PM in a spoof video of the event (as a video competition entry) means I have heard the word ‘bigot’ hundreds upon hundreds of times in the last few months….

6. Cuts

It’s all we have heard since the government were elected.? The books were worse than expected, so we all have to shoulder cuts.? Hundreds and thousands of millions of pounds worth of cuts.

Expect it to be the word of 2011.? And 2012.? And 2013….

7. Puffle

OK, so this is a bit of a personal one.? However, if you have a child aged between six and ten, you will probably know what I mean.

Club Penguin is the Disney Corporation’s World of Warcraft for kids.? Fiendishly addictive, colourful and fun (and magnificently parodied in Chris Morris’ Four Lions) the online game has been a staple in our household most of this year.

And puffles? Furry coloured pets of the penguins.? Get with the program.

8. Vuvuzela

If you’re a football fan, you probably spent most of June and July sitting at home with the noise of a swarm of angry bees emanating from your television.? The advent of the vuvuzela – the musical instrument of choice for this summer’s World Cup – was seen as either a magical part of incorporating local culture into the World Cup or the second most annoying thing at the tournament (Adrian Chiles, before you ask.)

My favourite vuvuzela story involved standing in a large pedestrian queue to get into the Glastonbury festival.? A guy in front of me had a vuvuzela attached to his rucksack and I complimented him on bringing the topical instrument to a Somerset field.

“That’s not my real vuvuzela,” he admitted.? “That’s my travel vuvuzela….”

9. Heroes

There’s no such thing as a role model, a talented sportsperson or a soldier any more.? There are only ‘heroes’.? Quite when this unnecessary hyperbole became acceptable – our forces do a brilliant job abroad but are by no means all ‘heroes’ in the traditional sense of the word – I am not sure.? However, it’s tough to ignore this omnipresent term – it’s even the name of the current UK number One single.

10. En-ger-land

Why do we do it to ourselves?? Every four years, we get completely carried away when an International Football Tournament comes around and we go into a major competition with the belief that this time, we might just win it.? It’s a bit like people that get married half a dozen times – the triumph of hope over expectation and previous experience.

This year was, arguably, even worse.? Eng-er-land

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were the third favourites (the THIRD FAVOURITES!) to win the 2010 World Cup which made our spectacular fall from grace even harder to bear.? We scored two goals (Matthew Upson finishing as England’s joint top goalscorer tells its own tale), failed to beat either the USA or Algeria and went out a round earlier than everyone’s worst case scenario.

England’s rugby league team were once again largely hopeless and our rugby union team (the Australia results excepted) were also pretty dreadful for most of 2010 (anyone who watched the Calcutta Cup match will recall it was arguably the worst international rugby match of all time).? It was, yet again, another terrible year for Eng-er-land’s sports teams, and only a good performance down under in the Ashes can truly rescue our sporting pride.

__________________________

So, there are my top 10 words of 2010.? Any that you agree or disagree with?? What words would you put on the list?