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7 Comments

  • Stan:
    Until I read your explanation, I thought the writer dropped the “to” before “post.” Good example of terrible gobbledygook.

  • Marc: It’s causing frowns and double-takes now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the usage were to become quite common within a few decades. I’ll be sticking with after, though.

  • Stan, my reaction was similar to Marc’s and was compounded by confusion over what could possibly constitute “banana fraud” . Do tell!

  • Thanks for your comment, Helen. In the phrase “post the proposals”, it’s entirely natural to parse post as a verb. Interesting that this remains the case even when the sentence is made an example of, so to speak. As for “banana fraud”, I suspect this is Cathy’s doing — a way to preserve the anonymity of the source, and to introduce some mystique for good measure!

  • […] Plain and simple discusses an awkward use of post as a preposition, before criticising the tendency — widespread in officialdom but by no means exclusive to it — to jazz up language by replacing plain words with fancy ones for no good reason, for example with what Arthur Quiller-Couch called “vague woolly abstract nouns”. Somehow people feel that simple, everyday language is not impressive enough, and that what’s needed is more abstract and ostentatious vocabulary. Not so. […]

  • Sometimes bureaucratese is used to protect the writer from having to realize that what they are doing is absurd. Can you imagine even the most blasé civil servant writing “Please let us know if you have died since your last renewal?” Of course, what’s needed is a little more thought, producing something like “If the licence holder has died, please inform us by checking Box B”, or whatever.

    But writing those forms is hard enough without thinking. If one had to think while writing gobbledegook, life would be insupportable altogether.

  • John: That’s very true, though the letter the government sent me wasn’t as bad as that; in fact, it approached the matter quite sensitively, albeit wordily: “In some cases […] this letter may be addressed to a person who is deceased. This is deeply regretted as we recognise that this may cause some distress.”
    And then comes the “advise this fact” bit, which I’d sooner had been put more plainly.