Egg Of The Week
July 30, 2016
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One of the joys of the English language is its easy assimilation of words and phrases from other languages and cultures. But apparently this magpie-like acquisitive streak, taking a bit here, a bit there, makes the language a bit complicated for some, which will never do. As the vogue seems to be to head towards the lowest common denominator at the fastest possible speed, gov.uk, the Government’s website, has announced this week that it is dropping the use of handy abbreviations like eg, ie and etc.
Without any sense of irony and betraying an absence of recognition that the abbreviations are Latin in origin – the lingua franca which allowed nations to communicate with each other for centuries – Persis Howe – an American it appears – explained the move, “Anyone who didn’t grow up speaking English may not be familiar with them. Even those with high literacy levels can be thrown if they are reading under stress or are in a hurry – like a lot of people are on the web”. Persuaded? The wonderful homophones are surely next on the list.
It gets worse. Apparently eg can be read aloud as egg by screen reading software and ie isn’t always well understood. Another discernible trend these days is to make a stupid decision and then row back as you ponder the implications. The changes are going to be introduced gradually. Apparently there are over 4,000 uses of eg on government websites and we don’t want the poor darlings at the Government Digital Service to have to do too much work. Haven’t they heard of the useful global find and replace feature in Word?
These abbreviations have stood the test of time and the reason that they are so popular is that they eliminate the need to pad out the text with unnecessary phrases such as such as for example.
Enough of this nonsense – the campaign to restore the usage of eg and ie etc starts here.