Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Gardeners waste vital resource

That new presenter, so smug, so egregiously exhortative, resembling a former Scots Guards corporal reduced to teaching PT at a minor public school. And when Carol Klein comes on I go upstairs to put on my pyjamas. No, I’m not a fan of Gardeners’ World but I allow it to flicker at the far end of my focus, earning me reciprocal viewing rights when MotoGP comes around.

I’ve watched GW for years concentrating on the bits I suspect real gardeners ignore. The presentational techniques, the way the camera loved Monty Don, Titchmarsh and Geoff Hamilton and how the simplest of jobs (eg, taking a cutting) was often invested with particle physics mystique. Then there’s the linguistics.

It started with the verb to pot. Quite quickly I learned gardeners potted on, potted out and even potted up. I was never able to discover whether these variants were different or simply an oral tic on the part of the instructor, wheezing as he bent over the terracotta. Digging up and digging in are perhaps predictable but last Friday the PT teacher employed rotted out.

This cavalier attitude has spread like oxalis. New plants are watered in. Lawns mowed over. I tried some inventions of my own based on less promising prepositions. Fertilise between? Didn’t sound plausible. But there are other corruptions. Trees fruit, for instance. Mulch can be turned into a verb and attached to a preposition: mulch down.

The computer industry is rightly censured for murdering English. But try out those ruddy-faced, salt-of-the-earth sons of toil, the aphids of communications. Far from innocent.


Sir Hugh said...

My friends Pete and Liz are extreme gardners. On a visit to my house they saw a sad looking vase of forgotten freesias that should have been disposed of perhaps two weeks earlier. Liz said "I think they have 'gone over' ".

Sir Hugh said...

My friends Pete and Liz are extreme gardners. On a visit to my house they saw a sad looking vase of forgotten freesias that should have been disposed of perhaps two weeks earlier. Liz said "I think they have 'gone over' ".

Plutarch said...

Like you I've given up GW but for horticultural as well as the presentational reasons at which you quite rightly point your angry shears.

marja-leena said...

'the aphids of communications' made me smile, as did this rant. I think language gets murdered in a lot of areas of specialty, even in news media (a pet peeve of my other half's). He says this making up of new slang, trying to be cute, is a sign of lazy minds. I think he may be right.

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: your other half should meet my other half. Her especial animus is directed presently (there'll be others I'm sure)towards "property" when used in news broadcasts as a synonym for house.

No one with a feeling for language would have come up with the ugly prioritise. Mind you, I'm not exactly in love with blog.

Plutarch said...

When I remember, I use the term web log, from which blog is apparently derived. It's more sedate, if less succinct and seems to have given way to its awful abreviation.

Lucy said...

I've given up the struggle with 'blog', web-log never seemd to really work. It is a horrid word but there's no way around it. I think it may be one of the reasons I'm a little unwilling to 'come out' as a blogger to the laity, it just sounds so stupid.

We gave up GW some way into the Titchmarsh period. Geoff Hamilton was the one and only for us really, though I bear him an only slight reproach for encouraging overweening and unrealistic ambition in my husband when it came to the horticulturally realistic or even possible.

As to the coining of unnecessary phrasal verbs, this is one of the banes of my life as an English language teacher, as it's such a tricky area for learners, and one on which many a very competent non-native speaker can founder. I think 'potting on' is OK, as it adds a specific sense of continuing a process. The worst offenders are cookery programmes, though, where just about every culinary action seems to need the totally redundant particle 'off', and with nouns become verbs at the drop of a saucepan, one hears such things as 'wokking off', which sounds mildly obscene...

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: Oh dear me, a couple of wounds that had hardly healed over and I've caused them to open again. By the way, until I read your comment I hadn't realised how close the word blogger is to the sin that caused so much censure to fall on the heads of those who dwelt in the Cities of the Plain.