May I have a word?
The shifting patterns of English: Christmassy cascades of trains I find little more cheering than a heartfelt plea from a fellow grump, and stepping boldly forward this week is John Williams, who wrote deploring the adding of “y” to nouns to make adjectives.
He lays the blame at the door of EH Shepard and his illustration of the Hundred Acre Wood – “floody place” in particular. “Christmassy” he finds particularly noisome, followed by “chockablocky”, “boily-hotty”, “matchymatchy”, “countrysidey”, “warehousey” and “vibey”, execrable coinages he has gathered from television programmes and overheard conversations.
He asks in despair: “Can anything be done to halt the habit before it is too late?” I fear that the answer is a depressing and resounding no, but I’m very happy to share his grievance. My bugbear this week is from South Western Railway, which could teach the Spanish Inquisition a thing or two. Courtesy of its website comes the following: “We are preparing to deliver additional capacity for the benefit of customers… 90 additional Class 442 vehicles which are presently being refurbished can be progressively introduced into service in existing timetables to allow other trains to be cascaded elsewhere on our network.”
“Customers”? No, I’m a passenger. “Cascaded”? I think of cascades as being waterfalls, natural beauties easy on the eye, not several hundred tons of trains descending on my head from a great height. The message goes on to say that the company “will be delivering an increase in standard class seating capacity through internal reconfiguration”. So it’s farewell first class, welcome to cattle class. And then I will get even more boily-hotty than usual as I await the 7.46 to Waterloo.
‘Floody place’ from EH Shepard’s original map.