If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 19 March 2012

The reign in Speign

I think I am going to start a weekly John Major-style 'back to basics' spelling column. Here's the BBC's Chief Scaremonger Environment correspondent with one of my pet hates:
"However, it's not too late for David Cameron to turn this around and leave an environmental legacy he can be proud of," she said.

"He can start by reigning in his chancellor, who seems hell-bent on trashing the environment."

No, no, no.

'Reign' is what the Queen does. It means 'rule' and is related to the Latin rex or regina, king and queen. It's almost an anagram of regina. Perhaps that will help. "Reign in" makes no sense.

'Rein' is what you have on a horse to control the bridle. To stop or slow the animal, you pull on the reins, or "rein in" the horse.

From the context, I am sure Black intended that Cameron should slow down or stop his chancellor (shouldn't that have a capital 'C'?), rather than have him rule the country from his living room.

(HMTQ: As it is tipping it down outside, we propose to reign in for the afternoon.)

A hundred lines, Black, "I will learn to spell proper, like" and homework is to find out that 'homophone' means. No, not that, stupid boy ...


  1. My favourite (well, in the sense it makes me clutch my head and moan) is 'tow the line'


  2. I can see this becoming a regular thing.

  3. If two homophones love each other, should they be allowed to marry?

  4. Something I see very often is confusion between principal and principle.

  5. your making a fuss about nothing

  6. There, their, and they're! Or, more related to usage than spelling is to refer to an amount of people or things. Drives me crazy!!!!!

  7. What about cars crashing because there breaks are faulty?

  8. The amount of car crashes is, like, totally unacceptable.

  9. I am constantly amazed at what people can do to the English language.

    Americans butcher their fair share of it too. I don't think Facebook and Twitter have helped in regards to grammar.

  10. Argggh! All of the above. I am glad so many of you have your own pet hates. It makes me feel less guilty about mine. More in duke horse, I think.

    Canajun makes me think of a Punch cartoon I once saw and can't forget. Hippy couple in maternity hospital. Doctor to new mother: "Like, it's a chick!"

    *flexes muscles, spits on hands*

  11. " "However, it's not too late for David Cameron to turn this around and leave an environmental legacy he can be proud of," she said."

    Should a sentence end with 'of'?

    I thought it should be '.....leave an environmental legacy of which he can be proud.'

  12. Attributed to Churchill (and probably apocryphal) was his note to an over-eager scribe who had 'corrected' a sentence-ending preposition in one of his speeches: This is the kind of pedantry up with which I will not put.

    No, I agree - ending a sentence with 'of' is usually clumsy, and better written as you have done. Sometimes, the sense demands a little flexibility, though, and to me it is not a capital crime. I probably do it myself - that is, it's something I am occasionally guilty of.



Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...