Has Michael Gove dreamed up these grammar rules just for our entertainment?
In case, you observe the trendy grammar policies Planet Amend issued via Michael Gove to civil servants – this time in the Ministry of Justice – you will be challenge to conflicting feelings. On the only hand, there may be a positive quantity of sympathy for a lord chancellor who is making an attempt to educate his staff – if we will stretch a point and contact them that – to apply the English language successfully. It’s galling to look it misused, In case you care about this sort of component, and especially if it’s being misused by using the form of folks who must recognise higher.
Michael Gove troubles civil servants with grammar recommendations for correspondence
The trouble is that Gove has, as so regularly in his profession, opened himself up to scrutiny and mock to the point in which you begin to suspect that he’s without a doubt doing this for the public’s entertainment instead from any really held set of convictions. While commenting on a memo that advises its recipients not to start a sentence with the phrase “however”, it’s far tough no longer to start a sentence, in respond, with the phrase “however”; or to search for examples of Gove’s very own posted works (for he was once a journalist) in which he begins sentences with the phrase “however”. (And there are pretty some of these examples.)
And Whilst he is going to this point as to inform civil servants they ought to opt for “does now not” instead of “doesn’t” in reliable communications, or keep away from “whatever too pompous”, or write “I am sorry to Examine that …” as opposed to “I’m sorry to listen that …” – an over-literalism that precludes the opportunity that the author might also indeed have heard in preference to Read some information – then once more the familiar Gove is earlier than us. Here is the demanding, insecure man beleaguered by means of the tempo of trade in an international becoming alien to him, who sees accurate usage as a type of security blanket, prides himself on his command of the language, and likes to permit everyone know it – even when his strictures are contradictory (there’ll, after all, be times When announcing “does not” as opposed to “doesn’t” verges on pomposity) or honestly ridiculous.
Upload to this combination the robust whiff of someone with too much time on his palms and a bent to didacticism, and we have, within the higher reaches of presidency, a model of the understand-all Harry Enfield character who maintains pronouncing “You don’t need to do it like that”. Characters like that have been, as I’m positive Gove will recognise, figures of fun because Chaucer; and the glorious factor about such people – even those who have Study Chaucer, as I’m positive Gove has – is that they’re utterly ignorant of their personal condition.
He is, one suspects, the sort of individual who will no longer just sigh inwardly at seeing a signal pronouncing “tomato’s”; he’s the type of character whom it isn’t difficult to assume going up to the person responsible and complaining about it. And if he has not accomplished it but, it’s miles simplest a rely of time. There are masses of public servants – say, the complete coaching profession – who can attest to his tendency to paste his nostril in and contribute that aren’t desired.
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However, all that is to overlook the point, or to make mild of it for the sake of comedy. There are two clues as to what is sincerely going on. the one in plain sight is his activity: however sidelined he can be from the real levers of electricity, or from David Cameron’s snug clique, Gove is, in his very own eyes as a minimum, and relative to us, a Critical individual. The clue this is tucked away in his commands is his insistence that once his civil servants confer with rising courtroom costs, a truth due totally to his birthday party’s guidelines, they have to mention “the want to tackle the financial state of affairs that the government has inherited”.
So, while it’s miles all very well for him to generously endorse (I cut up the infinitive gleefully) that they Study George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens, such recommendation might sound a piece higher – or Study a piece higher, if he prefers – if he wasn’t recommending that, every time a certain concern comes up, propaganda need to be used; or, as Orwell or Hitchens could have put it: a lie.