My esteemed colleague who last week was bemoaning BBC announcers’ pronunciation of Jean-Luc Godard’s film A Bout de Souffle has a new grouse, one that I heartily share. His home town is being disrupted by roadworks and the accompanying “signage” (signs?). The one that particularly irks him proclaims “Footway is closed”. What, he asks, happened to pavements? Pavements appear to be a thing of the past where I live too. Shame.
There are certain phrases that are now ubiquitous, but that doesn’t diminish the annoyance that they cause me. I’m thinking of “head up” and “meet with”. I suspect that they are both insidious American invaders, but in the good old days “head” and “meet” served perfectly well on their own. The same goes for “park up”. As for “fry off” on television cookery shows, don’t get me started.
To those many people who have written to deplore the almost universal use of the word “multiple” in the media instead of “many” or “numerous”, all I can say is that I deplored this in a column yonks ago, but it seems that I’m a voice crying in the wilderness. My powers extend only so far, I’m afraid.
And so to reader Harry McDonald’s gripe: “Today’s Guardian told us that Uefa had ‘pre-prepared’ a statement. It fair set my teeth on edge. How on earth does one pre-prepare anything? Surely the word ‘prepare’ is sufficient? The use ofthe prefix ‘pre’ seems to be spreading and it needs to be stopped. Otherwise I shall have to pre-arrange my own death!”
Mr McDonald, I know the phrase is aggravating, but please count to 10 and don’t do anything untoward or hasty.
• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist