Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just because a word sounds good

Doesn't mean it's the right word to use. Yesterday we were enlivened by a Polly Toynbee article decrying the 'effete' Boris Johnson - a word which means lacking in vigour, infertile and worn out. Given that Polly was extremely censorious a while back about Boris's vigorous womanising, and given that if one was asked which of Ken and Boris looked more tired, the answer would certainly be the pensioner it looks like an odd word. Moreover, it looks like a word that Polly thinks sounds good, but doesn't actually know the meaning of.
As with yesterday, as with today. It's Jonathon Freedland's turn to write an article puffing Livingstone as a political behemoth and denigrating Boris as useless. His word for the day is 'fop' as in It's Labour stalwart versus Tory fop - dress rehearsal for the really big one. Now, although fop sounds good - it even has sort of trace elements of class identification - it does have a specific meaning. That meaning is "A man who is preoccupied with and often vain about his clothes and manners" Which bit of that definition rings true about Boris Johnson? This is a man who is not merely dishevelled, but looks as though he has never in his life ever been remotely shevelled. Why use words if you don't know what they mean?

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