Insight article

What’s happened to our grammar?

I was mildly incensed the other day.  There you are….an immediate oxymoron, but it’s deliberate so doesn’t count.  The point I’m about to make is that I fear that we are becoming increasingly lazy and ignorant when it comes to our language – both written and verbal.

I don’t normally pay much attention to announcements on trains as they tend to be intrusive, repetitive, unnecessary and usually hard to decipher.  That is, with the exception of a very nice Spanish gentleman who works on First Great Western who’s a pleasure to listen to.  Anyway, for some reason, on my daily commute at the end of last week, I heard the train manager say “we will not be platforming this train at Twyford”.  Platforming this train? Since when has the verb ‘to platform’ entered our vocabulary? Did it make it in with ‘onboarding’ staff, or ‘medalling’ at the Olympics?

I was quite tempted to go and find the said gentleman to explain the correct way of helping his passengers understand that they wouldn’t be getting off the train at Twyford.  The train would not be opening its doors.  The doors would remain locked.   Passengers would neither be allowed to get off, get on, leave or exit the train, nor descend to the platform.  The train doors were not going to open.  Getting off at Twyford, in fact, was simply not going to be an option for any of those passengers on the 18.47 to Swansea.  But never let it be said that it might not ‘platform’ there.

Turning a noun into a verb is annoying, but so is putting apostrophes where they shouldn’t be, and not putting apostrophes where they should.  So are rogue commas before the word ‘however’ when there should be a full stop.  I know, I know, we all have the occasional lapse in concentration every now and again, but you’d think that professional communications people would get it right.  All too often they don’t.

Okay folks, I know I’m going to be lambasted by my team the very next time I make a grammatical mistake.  But please let’s remember what our English teachers taught us, and while we accept that language evolves over time, let’s not get lazy or complacent, and just make up new rules because we can’t be bothered to stick to the current ones.

Lecture over.  I’m now going to kettle some tea.

Nailia Tasseel