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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wishuwell wishuwell 12:54 pm 24 Jan 08

Perhaps a case of new broom sweeps clean. Hasn’t a similar thing happened with certain bits of furniture? Then again if its come from a Govt. department could be complete crap.

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 1:10 pm 24 Jan 08

“Programme” is the correct spelling, whilst “Program” is the American spelling. The former PM apparently insisted the correct spelling be used – I suspect that this is just a case of “new dog in the yard” syndrome.

sepi sepi 1:11 pm 24 Jan 08

Good. Program is far more normal than Programme.

Last I heard only DEST insisted on Programme, while everyone else used Program, leading to annoyance on joint press releases etc.

Now what about the ATO insisting on ‘lodgment’ not ‘lodgement’ has Kevin got any ideas there?

BeyondThought BeyondThought 1:11 pm 24 Jan 08

The PS people here can correct me, but I thought that the Macquarie Dictionary was the authorative reference?????

Galadar Galadar 1:12 pm 24 Jan 08

The Australian government has for many years produced a “style manual” which covers presentation of work, spelling, forms of address for dignitaries, and a bunch of other stuff. Occasionally they change things and make an announcement, like the “edicts” you mentioned. It is in the interest of uniformity – so you don’t find the same word with different spellings (e.g. programme/program) used interchangeably throughout a document where two people with different preferences for spelling work on something and cannot agree on a standard spelling of a word, or form of address, or way of writing a phone number, and so on. Australian businesses are encouraged to use the style manual to guide their usage so that generally everyone in Australia eventualy uses the same style. This is important for instance in writing dates, to ensure we don’t confusion caused by some people using the American date or (month/day/year) while others use the order day/month/year.
In this case the Macquarie dictionary allows both spellings of program but puts “program” first as the preferred spelling, so it is appropriate that Mr Rudd has issued the “edict” mentioned to bring the public service up to date and keep things standard.

BeyondThought BeyondThought 1:13 pm 24 Jan 08

Couldn’t resist ….

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as ‘Euro-English’.

In the first year, ‘s’ will replace the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be dropped in favour of ‘k’. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced with ‘f’. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent ‘e’ in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v’.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 1:23 pm 24 Jan 08

Not a PS type BT but I understand that the Commonwealth Style Manual is the last word on these things. It suggests that the Macquarie Dictionary is indeed the last word. When it comes to “Program/me” the Mac I have gives both with the shorter “Program” being the primary.

Ralph Ralph 1:34 pm 24 Jan 08

No bloviating.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 1:40 pm 24 Jan 08

You sure Kevin didn’t mean Pogram?

barking toad barking toad 1:41 pm 24 Jan 08

It’s all to do with gorebull warmening.

Chopping those two letters off the word will save so much ink and paper that I can already feel my carbon footprint shrinking.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 1:44 pm 24 Jan 08

Within a year, all instances of Programme and Program in Kevin’s policies will be replaced by Pogrom.

Mælinar Mælinar 1:54 pm 24 Jan 08

Beyondthought – to answer your question, the Macquarie is the authorative australian english reference document.

That does not necessarily or strictly mean that the Australian Government has to use it.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 2:02 pm 24 Jan 08

DEWR insisted on the archaic French spelling too, despite deferring to the Style Guide on everything else, but with this curious advice from the Quick Guide for Ministerials and Briefings: “Avoid program – exceptions are Community Jobs Program, Migration Program.”

My Style Guide (6th edition p125) says “program”.

As an acknowledged grammar pedant, I for one am quite happy to read this. I always felt like writing shoppe, whilst, amongst, thee, thou, etc whenever forced to use programme…

Now where can we find a link to this edict please?

sjp sjp 2:02 pm 24 Jan 08

I love spikking viz ze German accent. Zat is all.

Tixylix Tixylix 2:26 pm 24 Jan 08

Transesophageal echocardiogram

“Programme” is not the correct spelling, especially when using the Macquarie dictionary as reference.

Mælinar Mælinar 2:34 pm 24 Jan 08

You program the program by programming it so that it can print programmes, whereas once given the programme, it will tell you what is on the programme, and it may also tell you who programmed the program by programming it.

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 2:35 pm 24 Jan 08

My Macquarie has both. The Style guide says use the Macquarie – unless you’d prefer to use another dictionary.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 2:41 pm 24 Jan 08

Can someone point out this new style choice from the PM?
FYI post-MOG we still have “use programme not program, (unless it is in a formal title)” in the Dept Style guide, which says only to refer to Commonwealth Style if something is not covered.

caf caf 3:09 pm 24 Jan 08

The concept of individual Department Style Guides in addition to a Commonwealth Style Guide reminds me of the Andrew Tannenbaum quote, “Standards are nice, because there’s so many to choose from”.

astrojax astrojax 4:49 pm 24 Jan 08

al’s right – the ‘me’ suffix was a pretentious addition by the hoity toity poms to make it more, i dunno, something above the unwashed (gee, that’s erudite, innit)

and the americans have aluminum (al-oo-min-um) right too, dammit, dammit all to hell!

but in any case i guess an organisation (here, gov’t) has a right to dictate a uniform approach to certain matters, so if da minista wants ut, da minista is da dood… ‘right’ is what is demanded by da man.

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