May I have a word

The Observer - - Comment & Analysis - Jonathan Bou­quet

The shift­ing pat­terns of English: ham­mer­ing home a word’s true mean­ing No one, least of all my fam­ily and close friends, would deny that I am some­what hide­bound, stuck up to my nethers in mud. I mean, don’t get me started on the sub­ject of mo­bile phones and the in­abil­ity of so many of their own­ers not to com­pre­hend that they are in­ca­pable of walk­ing and us­ing these de­vices at the same time.

Thus, when I see the word tool­kit, it con­jures up im­ages of the con­tents of a red can­tilevered box, con­tain­ing ham­mers, var­i­ous screw­drivers, bradawl, span­ners (again var­i­ous), sundry nails, screws and bro­ken elec­tric saw blades (no, I don’t know why ei­ther), and as­sorted oddly shaped pieces of plas­tic that prob­a­bly came from a longdis­carded Black & Decker Work­mate.

Alas, no longer. A re­cent re­port, on par­ents who won’t let their sons wear a skirt to school pos­si­bly be­ing re­ferred to so­cial ser­vices, talked of “Brighton and Hove city coun­cil’s ‘trans in­clu­sion schools tool­kit’”.

Now, without wish­ing to get in­volved in the tan­gled is­sue of gen­der iden­tity, I would just like to stick my crusty old arm over the para­pet and stand up for tool­kit’s proper mean­ing. Brighton and Hove coun­cil could just as eas­ily have used the word ad­vice and it would have had ex­actly the same mean­ing.

But the coun­cil is not alone. Con­sider the fol­low­ing:

• Build­ing a di­rect work tool­kit.

• Cerner Launch­ing EHRIn­te­grated Opi­oid Tool­kit for Safe Pre­scrib­ing.

• Cre­at­ing a Tool­kit for Well­be­ing: Part 1.

• Real Es­tate Bal­ance in­tro­duces di­ver­sity “tool­kit”.

OK, I’m old enough and wise enough to know when I’ve lost a bat­tle. I shall re­treat grace­fully and look for my spirit level.

A tool­kit in hap­pier times.

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