A presumptuous guardian of language


He proclaims himself to be a posh, old fashioned, entitled, obsessively religious, weedy, nerdy, rich know-all. Who would disguise themselves as that?

David Mitchell

The Twittersphere has been having great fun with The Minister for the 18th Century‘s recent directive on language, presumably inscribed with quill on parchment—the latest stage in his patronising mission to bestow his patrician values upon the plebs, or should I say hoi polloi.

Now, we all have our little linguistic peeves (here’s one of mine). It’s not that people don’t believe in stylistic guidelines; more that we don’t want them delivered by pompous fogeys—here‘s a general demolition of language pedants.

@NewsDumpUK asks

Should bellend be hyphenated or not?

One among many of his fatuous rules—no comma after “and”—is perplexing. Since no-one appears to do this anyway, commentators have surmised that he was trying to ban the Oxford comma, which occurs before the “and”. To the wonderful examples here showing its necessity, we can now add:




Or indeed


On a sartorial note, @SirRoyES commented:


and @Scarlett_Pebble observed that

Jacob Rees-Mogg looks like two underaged people wearing one suit to try and sneak into a wine bar.

Plenty more to explore on Twitter, via #JacobReesMoggGuide.

The Haunted Pencil’s popular touch (“a scarcely believable public-school comedy sketch”) has already been encapsulated in his classic description of Teresa May’s Brexit plan as

 the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200

—which inspired me to pen another post.

All business should henceforth be conducted in Latin. I’m like, WTF?

Of course, it may merely be the Tree-Frog’s Cunning Plan to divert us from the iniquity of his sinister wider agenda—tellingly exposed here by James Meek, and here by Rachel Parris:

.For an ancient Chinese reprimand, see here; and for more fatuity from the Haunted Pencil, here. See also my roundup of posts on Tory iniquity.

11 thoughts on “A presumptuous guardian of language

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  2. Evidently, you, and the other critiques of JRM, have too much time on your hands. Or, your occupations as editors compel you to search for faults in others over minutiae.


  3. Dear Stephen: I read your attached link with attention. I don’t understand what Rees-Mogg has against “very”? If it was good enough for Spenser (where it is clearly related to MF “truly”), it should be good enough for him. Although I could see why R-M might object to the participle Spenser uses in that very same passage.


  4. . . . that should have been ‘MF FOR “truly” (verrai = very)’. Apologies for hastily putting in my alternate e-address. Please simply retain the address with which I began my sub. — V.


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