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21 April 2010

While travelling through a mutual friend...

Linguist Laurie Bauer warns us to be careful that we say what we mean:

Perhaps the wartime headline of "Churchill flies back to front" was intended as a joke, but I presume that the item in a Scottish paper complaining that "The Duchess wore nothing to show she was the recipient of four Scottish honours", if genuine, was unintended.

A colleague drew my attention to an advertisement for a "preloved women's fashion show", and I hope the preloved women who attended had a good time.

But sometimes these things seem to go beyond a joke, as in the badly named British institution, the National Centre for Domestic Violence.

Sometimes near enough is really not good enough, and we have to think carefully about the effect we make, at the risk of being unintentionally offensive.

One of my personal favourites is the term 'Criminal Intelligence'.

In the remainder of the article, Laurie talks about word pairs where a noun and a verb have the same spelling, but different vowel sounds or stresses.

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