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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
EditorialsUp Front 05/12

Up Front 05/12

I came across an old song the other day that bemoaned the fact that the English language was being ruined. It had been ‘totally diswobbled, pulverized and collywobbled’ according to the song. The songwriter had created an amusing ditty by highlighting some of the words whose definitions had been given new meaning over the years. A ‘buzz’, for example was once a ‘noise insecticidal’, instead of a word for a high obtained by chemical means in the days when he wrote the song. Today a buzz is common for another reason entirely. It is the insistent noise made by mobile phones when they want to nudge people about a new text, email, tweet or social network alert. Whether you are on a train, in a supermarket, queuing for theatre tickets or just sitting at home with your children, the buzz of our new world communication device is everywhere. It makes me about as comfortable as an elephant with tinnitus. I mentioned to someone the other day that because of the high usage of text, email and instant messaging systems, our children would never master the art of having a telephone conversation, let alone a face to face discussion. Generations to come may well sit around the cabinet table at 10 Downing Street texting each other their views on how to run the country. So what a relief it was when I found that one of my daughters had discovered the joys of listening to the radio on her phone. As she wandered through the kitchen the other day, headphones on, engrossed in a radio programme, I thought how useful this device could be and asked if she was listening to a play or maybe a political discussion or even The Archers. She gave me a look that I interpreted to mean, ‘Dad, you can’t dance to current affairs’ and turned tail in search of more interesting conversation. As she pirouetted out of the room I distinctly heard an insistent buzz. It was only later I discovered that she hadn’t actually heard a word I’d said.

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