Politicians Re-defining The English Language

enrique 24 January 2008 74

A few years ago I performed a job for a federal government department and took note that everyone had been directed via an edict from John Howard that all written use of the word program was to be spelt “programme”.

Today I’ve just been informed that everyone has been directed via an edict from Kevin 07 that all written use of the word programme is to be spelt “program”.

Seriously people – what right does the government have to dictate how to spell common English words. Isn’t that the job of the dictionary?


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74 Responses to Politicians Re-defining The English Language
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Mælinar Mælinar 9:02 am 25 Jan 08

So Troy, would it be a correct statement to say that you approve of Kevin’s ‘program’ policy over JW Howards previous ‘programme’ policy, as the estimated savings to the nation is $1.3m ?

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 1:06 am 25 Jan 08

Oh, I got nothing against you personally Troy. You’re a good pollie and you did and still do engage well with constituents in Fraser. It’s just your party, that’s all. They stink (sorry).

el ......VNBerlinaV8 el ......VNBerlinaV8 11:38 pm 24 Jan 08

The 5000 unfilled APS positions indicate that there should be plenty of opportunities out there to shift people into more useful/functional roles.

TroyWilliams TroyWilliams 11:27 pm 24 Jan 08

I’d say “oh god, what did I start with this chain of thought” but in doing so would inadvertently start another string on the existence of God, with or without a capital, and the meaning of life.

Yes, my posting was definitely tongue-in-cheek. During the campaign all I advocated was for a clearly articulated statement about where, if Labor was elected, public sector job cuts were come from and the harm that large scale sackings would cause locally. If cuts are warranted I’ve no problem with that, however at the end of the day we are dealing with somebody who has to go home and face their family and say they no longer have a job. If they can be posted to a meaningful job in the APS, all good and well. If not, my hope is that we can ensure that the local private sector can provide them with meaningful employment.

Anyway, we have got way, way, way off the topic whether the extra two letters is needed in “programme”.

Fluges Fluges 10:43 pm 24 Jan 08

Just unwinding after another day in the Public Service …

Ralph Ralph 10:33 pm 24 Jan 08

Fluges has overindulged on the sweet sherry this evening.

Fluges Fluges 10:22 pm 24 Jan 08

There has been no ‘directive’ to spell program and I’m not expecting one. I’ve been running Commonwealth programmies for 30 years now and these sorts of ‘directives’ are a liberal trademark. A lot of us have used program all along and exasperated the people who were employed to thwart such union thug-like behaviour.

After all, ‘programmy’ is part of traditional Australian 1950’s culture and a core, essential AUSTRALIAN VALUE, and I’m not giving any money to any school that teaches otherwise!

One of the first ‘directives’ we got from PM&C in 1996 was that programmy was the only acceptable spelling. The Minister’s Office started returning documents without the programmy’s, for redraft. This was their idea of what was important. Umpteen Advisers in every Minister’s Office, each with their own formatting prefences. Detailed instructions constantly issued as to who prefers 11 or 12 or 13 font, which young liberal wants 5 spaces before his signature block, and which one wants 6! But they all wanted ‘programmy’, ‘cos the PM said they did.

And under the libs, these things were sent back to the Department for redrafting! Extra proof readers were employed to ensure the Minister’s eyes would never be offended by the lack of a ‘grammy’. Or an adviser had to suffer the indignity of only having 5 spaces before the signature block, when he or she ALWAYS has 6!

And anything other a page long? Forget it. We libs are too busy enjoying the trappings of office and looking after our mates to read all this stuff. If somethings needs more than one page to explain, then it’s probably something it’s best I don’t know about anyway. In case anything untoward pops up later. Now, about this document with two spaces before ‘yours sincerely’ , how on earth did this get through to me …

Kickbacks to Saddam? Well, nobody told me about that. If they did, it must have been over the page and I NEVER read over the page. I’ve TOLD everybody that! And if I don’t have to, then my staff don’t have to either. And if they do, then says who? So it’s not my fault I didn’t know, it’s those bloody wordy Canberra public servants, or it was, it was, Mr Speaker, the Labor Party! They were always going over the page, Mr Speaker. Who can forget those dark days when the socialists, Keating, union thugs were in power, when EVERYTHING, Mr Speaker, EVERTHING went over the page! The Australian people, ordinary people Mr Speaker, tell me every day that they don’t like things that go over the page and that’s all they ever got from the Labor Party! And the Australian people know me, Mr Speaker, they may dispise me, but they know I’ll never, ever, go over the page.

I’m sure that Julia Gillard won’t refuse to read something over a page long, or containing the programmy word or vice versa. And, unike Julie Bishop, Gillard has not insisted on expensive, special linen, embossed letterhead. She seems perfectly happy with normal paper. She and her staff are far too busy trying to fix up the mess that Howard left behind to worry about stuff like that.

Howard’s programmy directive was typical of the petty, small minded man and demonstrated a grossly misplaced sense of priority. It was all down hill from there, 11 long years of slow torture.

That was a good rant. I feel better now …

VicePope VicePope 9:51 pm 24 Jan 08

This is not the thread for a discussion of the subject of various kinds of revenue and expenditure decisions, but I’d have to disagree with Ralph. Any tax cut is, by its nature, likely to affect some more than others, absolutely and proportionally. The pork potential is there, it’s just that the carcase is being sliced on income level or expenditure type grounds rather than regional or sectarian ones. It’s just as political. Changes in income tax levels and the impacts of expenditure/activity based tax will benefit some and will affect (distort, if you will) behaviour. This country has been polluted for as long as I can remember by a mentality of avoiding tax at any cost, even if it was irrational to do so in a particular case. Reducing tax levels should (in an ideal world) affect the incentive to avoid, but I have seen no evidence, say since the GST, that it has. Anyway, I’m sure there’s a blog around where peope can tear out each others’ livers over this kind of thing. I’ll look for it.

Ralph Ralph 9:24 pm 24 Jan 08

Both he and I know the difference between public expenditure for public goods, distortionary policies and pork.

His column during the election campaign was targeting pork on both sides. Tax cuts are not pork, they are efficiency enhancing.

thetruth thetruth 9:12 pm 24 Jan 08

I actually remember when the edict for programme came in – good ol program made a sheepish come back over time.

Crap like this is why the rest of the country cannot wait to take the axe to the public service.

VicePope VicePope 9:03 pm 24 Jan 08

Rakph – ps to previous. I will be interested in his new project. I’d have to say I smiled a lot about an academic, in a substantially publicly funded university with substantially publicly funded students, using (no doubt) an ordinary array of public services like roads, saying simplistic Sunday Terror like things such as that all government expenditure was bad, and all tax cuts were good. I hope his new life frees him from at least some of the apparent contradictions.

VicePope VicePope 8:48 pm 24 Jan 08

I’m glad I was able to detect a common heritage then. Years of training have paid off.

Ralph Ralph 8:37 pm 24 Jan 08

Nope. He who you speak of is a former colleague at ANU, but not me. We have similar sentiments though.

He has moved to a new position on leave without pay. I’m not at liberty to say, but it may come out in a column.

VicePope VicePope 7:44 pm 24 Jan 08

Ralph – you read peculiarly like an economics academic, perhaps one with a sideline in writing for the Sunday Terror. Same lines. Same silliness. You must have been reading him enthusiastically.

VicePope VicePope 7:42 pm 24 Jan 08

I’m pretty sure “program” is ok (my old OED notes that it was originaly like that but “programme” was on the rise), but our former PM tended to like to flower things up, and adding an Anglofrancophilic affectation would be about right.

I was once in an agency where a Minister bounced a few days correspndence because he wanted “Mr.” rather than “Mr”.

Ralph Ralph 7:41 pm 24 Jan 08

Sorry Troy, I know your post was tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not happy with either yourself or Gary protesting against public service job cuts.

I know that you want to represent local constituents on issues that affect them, but as Liberals we should be advocating the economic benefits of small government.

Cut welfare, cut subsidies, cut red tape, privatise wherever possible, get rid of the states, and we can slash our tax rates to levels comparable with other countries in our region.

TroyWilliams TroyWilliams 7:37 pm 24 Jan 08

That’s cool DMD, everybody had their reasons for voting one way or the other. So long as people actually thought about their vote I’m satisfied that I accomplished something.

BTW, I drop the “me” too.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 6:15 pm 24 Jan 08

That, or maybe most people use ‘program’ instead of ‘programme’ anyway, Troy.

I haven’t forgotten the ‘night of the long knives’ either, neither has my dad. Every government seems to cut the P.S., so I can’t really see how the Liberals could use this as a card against Labor. I chose not to vote for you because of the Liberal’s social policies and workplace laws.

TroyWilliams TroyWilliams 5:51 pm 24 Jan 08

Hi guys

It’s possible that it’s part of Kevin Rudd’s plan to sack public servants (I did warn you).

Think of it this way. Say the average public servant uses “programme” twenty times per day (not an excessive guess as it’s one of those administration words they seem to like) over say 240 days per year, that’s 4,800 per times per person.

Say 35,000 people use the word 4,800 times each per year, we can estimate that “programme” is used about 168,000,000 per year.

Stay with me here …

If it takes half a second to type a letter (not everyone is good at typing) taking two letters off a word saves 168,000,000 seconds per year or 2,800,000 minutes or 46,667 hours or 23.61 working years.

At an average of $55,000pa that’s a saving of $1.3million each year or thereabouts.

Ok, the maths may be a little wonky but it’s the sort of odd thing the bean counters at Finance could have thought up.

Fiona Fiona 5:36 pm 24 Jan 08

I hate the mme… it just seems like overkill – look how fancy I am *rolls eyes*

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