Sunday, February 21, 2021

About tongues

Journalists and other writers are encouraged to avoid tiresome repetition of words by employing what’s known as elegant variation, the use of synonyms to make prose less of a trudge. This can sometimes be taken to preposterous extremes of course, as in the Guardian’s fondly remembered popular orange vegetable.

And still it goes on. One would have thought that a recent court case in Edinburgh, in which an unfortunate gentleman had part of his tongue bitten off by a woman, and then saw the morsel snatched away by a seagull, might have been exciting enough as it stood. But no, the writer and/or the sub-editor (if the Edinburgh Evening News can still afford such fripperies) decided that on a second mention the body part had to become the fleshy muscle.

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