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All new entries for the dictionary of newspaper 'journalese'

A one-man mission to teach the world about a new language is picking up plenty of followers.

Graeme Whitfield, digital editor of The Journal in Newcastle, launched a quest to write a dictionary of ‘English-journalese’ – that unique language of misuse which seems to appear in newspapers but never real life.

His initial efforts were words such as ‘tot’ meaning child or ‘slam’ instead of criticise.

Now, his online blog has attracted visitors from all over the UK and even America as more than 100 comments have been posted with reader contributions.

Graeme admits that they are still a long way off from producing a full-on dictionary but has been surprised by the volume of traffic generated by the debate.

Some of the latest examples of journalese featured include “snarled” when referring to traffic, “pact” often used for political deals and “ace” as in the footballer.

Graeme told holdthefrontpage: “It does seem to have caught on.

“It got picked up by a few news aggregators like, where users put stuff online that they like, so we got a flurry of responses from America.

“I have been surprised by the number of responses we’ve got. It has certainly hit a nerve – I think it may be a bit of a guilty pleasure.

“There’s a few I put up there that I am guilty of putting through the newsdesk here.

“Despite my efforts to stop people using these words, it hasn’t worked.

“You still see ‘tot’ in the tabloids all the time. But it’s nice to start a debate.”

To contribute to the dictionary of journalese visit Graeme’s blog.


peter lazenby (31/03/2008 12:35:40)
Could we abolish use of the expression “set to” ? As in “Leeds United is set to sign newcomer………” or “The Government is set to publish its proposals on……”
It’s horrible. It’s lazy. It’s meaningless. Most of the time what the writer means is “is to” so why not say so, as in “Leeds United is to sign….” “the Government is to publish…..” and so on.
This awful expression started in the tabloids but has spread to journals such as the Guardian and Independent. For me it’s the journalistic equivalent of the screech of fingernails down a blackboard.
Peter Lazenby
Yorkshire Evening Post

Mike Wilson (01/04/2008 11:41:31)
The phrase ‘sneak preview’ so often used in newspapers and by broadcasters is so meaningless. There is nothing ‘sneaky’ about the previews – they have usually been carefully organised in order to obtain maximum publicity. Why not just say ‘a preview’.