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Tongue-tied by minister-speak

GOVERNMENT departments came in for a bashing over gaffes and excessive use of acronyms: 48,000 posters promoting

literacy were removed by teachers because they featured two spelling mistakes: vocabluary and through lost its "r".

But Mr Blunkett's civil

servants are not as guilty of acronym proliferation as others. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has created some 300. NACCE (National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education),

pronounced by its chairman as "knacker", among them. A DCMS spokesman said the reason was because "we have a lot of NDPBs", non-departmental public bodies to you and me.

John Lister, of the Plain

English Campaign, suggested that the terms might be a neat way of making unpleasant things sound innocuous.

Enough to drive the Academie Francaise into apoplexy. The Paris health authority has issued a directve that all reports must be written in English. "A

strategic move brought about by a shift towards globalisation," it said.

Bright primary pupils in Sparkhill, Birmingham, are challenging the Walker crisp company to label their products properly. Muslim children, who eat only halal meat, found cheese and onion crisps contain rennet, taken from calves' stomachs; whereas beef, smoky bacon and roast chicken flavours have no trace of the animals. Confused?

Teenagers often are; but an excuse is at hand: researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have found their brains are too big, causing clumsiness, lack of control and dreaminess. Fortunately they grow out of it.

And finally, an early warning for parents: next Christmas watch out for the Wuvvie, so-called because it needs so much "wuv" and rewards 30 minutes cuddling by laying an egg. Aaaaargh!

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