War on words

The English NHS’s assult on the English language continues. Letters are being sent to some staff informing them that they are to receive “a premia” in their pay. Presumably, they mean a premium, but the letters are so badly written that no one can be sure what is meant.

Using collaborative in place of collaboration is well-established in the NHS in England and the web sites of the Department of Health and the NHS provide numerous other examples of misuse.

Poor use of the English language is becoming endemic in Whitehall and the wider public sector in England. You would expect education ministers to be able to express themselves most clearly and to use the language properly, but their speech is littered with “actually” and other redundant adverbs, over use of “in terms of” and (I’m sure I heard) “like” preceding nouns when the speaker’s intention was not to mean “similar”.

Perhaps worst of all, this week Ofsted, the Office of Standards in Education in England and Wales, used “chaos” to describe the system of vetting the criminal records when appointing teachers, when what was meant seemed to be lax or slip-shod or incompetent. In the week when ministers were being accused of having their policies dictated by the so-called red top tabloids, this use of language suggested the tabloids’ control had spread to the inspectors.

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