Saturday, 27 January 2018

A.C. Railing Against the BBC



I like reading books about the origins of words and phrases (especially those by Mark Forsyth) and and greatly enjoy Radio 4's Word of Mouth. I was wondering this morning about the phrase "mad as a box of frogs", which seems like a recent invention. When and how did it come about, and why has it taken off over the last few years? Well, the answer seems to be that no one knows its origins. Newspapers began using it in headlines around 2010, but it must have been current before then. As for why it's taken off, it's presumably simply because it's such a colourful phrase. It also fits in nicely with a long line of other such phrases possibly dating back to as far as "as mad as a March hare" (in common use since the 16th century).

7 comments:

  1. “Facts”?! As far as I can see nearly everyone of Project Fears predictions (lies?) has been wrong so far....Recession, Job Losses, WW3, Euro Army, planes falling from the sky etc etc.

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    1. Calais...we were supposed to have an army of refugees (aka young men of military age)camped out in Kent by now accordig to Cameron, Osborne, Rudd and the other pinnochio types.

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    2. Give it time - I suspect that allowing them to come here will be one of Theresa May's many capitulations in the negotiations.

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  2. Vs. the £350 million bus which whilst pre rebate is actually at least based on something, dare I say, factual?

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  3. Talking phrases - one I like which was heard fairly frequently in South London but seems to have disappeared as quickly as it appeared was the evocative "chatting bubbles" as in "stop chatting bubbles" i.e. stop talking nonsense like a little baby babbling away and blowing little saliva bubbles.

    And on a related subject - I've noticed how pronunciation of these, them, those, they seems to have shifted almost completely to deeze, dem, doze, day among young people, including well educated ones.

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    1. Re: 'dese, doze etc' the BBC has played a part in this: I've not heard him in the last couple of weeks, but BBC tv has been employing a, I think, black street patois speaker as a continuity announcer, so on several occasions we have been informed that programme 'X' will be on at 'free-firty.' The reason? - the BBC's desire to be more 'diverse', more socially inclusive. And so they lower their standards to accommodate the illiterate, instead of helping them to improve their English - Lord Reith must be spinning at about 6,000 r.p.m.

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    2. Yes, I've nothing against regional or unusual accents. But when it comes to a national broadcaster, surely comprehension is the no. 1 requirement. Radio 4 have a Geordie sounding female news presenter and I often misunderstand what she is telling me because I am from London. The point about RP speech is that we all, whatever our regional accent, can adjust their comprehension to that ("Ok this woman is speaking a bit like the Queen, so I will adjust my listening skills accordingly") but if you have a Gerodie one day, a Jamaican the next, and then a German...we are hard pressed to follow the news items with no context. In fact most countries have formal standards for educated speech for their main language(s)and expect presenters to follow the rules - countries like Norway for instance.

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