Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Backpacking Moggism


It is gratifying when a person who appears to be a caricature of someone straight out of the 1860s (ie Jacob Rees-Mogg) publicises something that someone straight out of the 1760s (ie Fellbound) has been moaning about for years – the use of ridiculous or imprecise language and the abuse of grammar.  I do not, incidentally, claim to be an expert on grammar.  As a child of the 1960s I was not taught grammar in any formal sense apart from in Latin and Greek lessons.  Thus, I make no claims to grammatical expertise, what with English speakers not being Romans or Ancient Greeks.

But Mogg has a point, in that some stuff we hear or read is, bluntly, absurd.  Having undertaken an extensive and rigorous analysis that took me in excess of twenty minutes I believe that many backpacking writers, bloggers and vloggers (what a horrid word) are guilty and I now set out just some of the words and phrases which, and I’ll put this as delicately as I can, boil my piss:

1. Rocking (or worse “rockin”) as in “what trail shoes are you rocking these days?”, or “I’m rocking the Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack on this year’s TGO Challenge”.  Can’t these people just wear or own things? I am, incidentally, rocking the GG Mariposa on most of my hikes.

2. Dialled.  I have no idea what this word means if used about anything other than a telephone made before about 1980.  People seem to say or write things such as “I have dialled my gear down”.  Look.  Just stop it.  Please.

3. My go to.  As in “my go to shelter/pack/boots/trekking poles/whatever”.  I just have a “usual” or “favourite”.  But then I’m an old fart.

4. Any discussion about the definitions of what constitutes “lightweight”, “ultralight”, “super-ultralight”, what should be included in “base weight” or anything vaguely connected with these concepts.  It’s subjective you wallies!  Would you have a discussion about, say, the height someone should be before they can be described as “tall” or “short”?  No you wouldn’t.  Not unless you were a complete moron.  Or a student of philosophy. Or both.

5. “Comfortability”.  I recently heard an American say that his new backpacking pillow had greatly increased his comfortability. Honestly.  And no, George W Bush has not started backpacking.


That’s backpacking.  Now I’ve started I may as well have a rant about this stuff in the wider world.

1. Forward planning.  What’s that all about?  Can planning be about anything other than what will happen in the future?  Is the word “forward” necessary? Or perhaps people who use this term believe they are dealing with people who think that they might be planning for events that are now in the past?

2. Existential.  No-one, but no-one, except the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, knows what that word means.  It is now used daily by politicians, journalists and commentators eg “an existential threat”.  It’s just “a threat” you idiots.  Adding superfluous words to make you sound clever does not make you clever.  Nor does it impress people who are clever.

3. “Reaching out”.  As in “we are reaching out to our customers”.  Well I will tell you what I reach out for.  The sick bucket whenever I hear or read this fatuous phrase.

4. “Can I get a….?”.  As used in Starbucks, Costa and all the large commercial coffee houses.  “Can I get a flat white?”  The correct response from the server should be “I’m sorry, no.  Health and Safety rules would not allow you behind the counter, but I’ll happily make one for you and put it in the eco-friendly mug made out of yak skin that you have thoughtfully brought with you.  Long live the polar bears.”

5. “This does not represent who I am or the values I hold”.  Another sick bucket inducing phrase.  It is used by people (politicians, business men and women, footballers, Hollywood stars and their ilk) caught with their trousers down, making racist abuse, recorded making injudicious comments to friends, using the office computers for porn, or making a Nazi salute.  In my case I need to explain that my dog Moss is somewhat deaf these days and he responds to hand signals.  My signal for stop and wait does, indeed, look rather like a Nazi salute. Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Actually matey, what you did does indeed represent who you are.  Be honest about it.  We’re all human.  We all err.  We have all said and done things that we should not have done.  The important thing is to be honest about our actions, not just to ourselves but also to any others affected, to know what is right and wrong and to try to improve our behaviours in the future.


Now go on.  You know you want to. If you are as curmudgeonly as me please leave a comment giving further examples of idiocy.  And do not write “starting a sentence with the word ‘and’, you clot”.  This was very acceptable in 1780.

31 comments:

  1. Cripes, I've a list that would last JRM's lifetime. The use of 'should of' instead of 'should have.' People who think an ellipsis is however many dots you fancy. It's not, it's three. The word outwith, which surely requires a mandatory prison sentence. And - sorry Jacob - the idea that two spaces after a full stop is grammatically correct. What utter tosh...

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    1. Hi Mark

      I also hate 'should of' instead of 'should have'. Another is treating an organisation or body as a plural when it is a singular eg 'The Government are...'. It should be The Government is...'.

      I do however, disagree with you about the use of two spaces at the end of the sentence. My old PA taught me to do this, although I often forget. As you rightly say it is nothing to do with decent grammar. It does, however, make reading a typed or word processed document easier. That is, I think, the reason it used to be taught on many secretarial courses.

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  2. Rees Mogg was of course somewhat traduced by the popular press with regard to his 'style guide'. As I understood it, the guidance was for the drafting of correspondence to be sent with his signature, thus a request for the drafts to be in a style approximating to his own didn't strike me as unreasonable. Indeed it would save his time in amending the draft text to 19C Moggeese.

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    1. Hello Phil

      I agree. I am not a fan of all of JRM's beliefs but I admire his politeness and intellect and he is often unfairly traduced. He was also criticised for hypocrisy by the media after his style guide became public, with journalists researching how often he had used some of his banned words when speaking in the House. What that exercise missed is that it is perfectly acceptable to use certain expressions verbally that are best not used in formal documents. Examples include 'get' and 'got'. Context is vital. Similarly, we are almost all more informal in the way we write an e-mail than when we take out our fountain pen or bash away at the Remington and write a real letter. That was, of course, written with irony given the fact that I am almost the only person left in the world who writes a letter (but thanks for yours Steve B!).

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    2. Phil is quite right. In my passing involvement with drafting ministerial replies I found that virtually every minister has preferences and expressions to avoid not just JRM. That included 'right on' (sic) New Labour too.
      Why do supermarkets 'refresh their offer' rather than just sell a new or repackaged item ?

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    3. I certainly used to rip into badly written reports that were prepared in my name when I was working. Nicely, of course. :-)

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  3. You really are a twonk David, but I still love you x.

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    1. Twonk? From the man who has pointed out my own grammatical errors? But I love you too, Geoff, so will forgive you anything. Well almost.

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  4. I am deeply offended by that...
    Ha... There's another one 🤔
    And I don't mean your post.
    I agree with it all. 😂😂
    Brilliant as ever.

    But back to the word deeply..
    Why? Deeply annoyed (annoyed), deeply saddened (saddened) etc etc.
    I guess you can be deeply penetrated, but that's a Web site I no longer visit. 😳🤦‍♂️😂

    Carry on the good work sir!

    I'm off to religiously and deeply study my base weight and test my pillow for comfortisation.

    I have a new sleeping bag for winter. I must check out it's base warmifying coefficient.

    I am very happy with the windifying and water Ness capability of my shelter (and yes, that's really a fucking tent) 🤦‍♂️😂😂😂

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    1. Hi Andy

      On a similar tack, the use of the word eg "I'm beyond excited". What does that even mean? And there was another one. "Even". Also, "and I was like let's go backpacking this weekend", ie "was like" instead of "said".

      Incidentally, there was only one superfluous apostrophe in your comment ;-)

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  5. I don't have a go to shelter, I carry mine! 😂

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  6. Epic blog post, d'ya feel better havin got that off ya chest 😁

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    1. Nothing to feel better from, Dale. I'm perfectly normal, me. Perfectly normal. Oh yes.

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  7. "I'm standing outside of (name of any recently disgraced politician)'s house."
    Usually said by some witless TV reporter.

    Do they ever stand inside of anyone's house?

    Or how about "I've two choices here at the fork in the road" No, you moron. You've a choice.

    I could go on.

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    1. Hello stranger!

      Thanks for reminding me of the two options means one choice error, Alan. I've bored for England on that.

      How are you enjoying your new fangled electric velocipede? I'm sure as an engineer you could design a mini wind turbine to charge it up overnight and so reduce your electrickery bills. Indeed if you had one fixed to the handlebars could it become a perpetual motion machine? Well perpetual until the wind ceased to blow.

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  8. Don’t get into an underwear entanglement situation, David.

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    1. As I'm going super uber ultra micro light on future backpacking trips I may not wear any Emma.

      Too much info?

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  9. My friends and I's opinion of your writings is that we're down with all of it. I would never in a million years think of even trying to refudiate a single iota or flyspeck of it, not even once, let alone attempting to previsualize what you might come up with next.

    As we all know the world is full of trendy idiots, but let that be past history. It's time for a new beginning, time for us to come up with new innovations. We can and we should. Speaking as one from a country that prides itself on being aggressively first with the newest, may I please leave you with a few words ascribed to G.W. Bush, a former politician, who put things so clearly: "The French language has no word for 'entrepreneur'." So unlike us Americans.

    Additional materials to study before the test:

    * "The Word Detective": http://www.word-detective.com/

    * "Index of Previous [Word Detective] Columns": http://www.word-detective.com/backidx.html

    [Sad note: If you have a web site copier, it would be good to grab the above. Evan Morris, the author, announced February 8th, 2016 that he had "Stage 4 (i.e., metastatic) cancer." His last post was February 27th, 2017, and by now he may have entered state of being no more.]

    * Slightly related and delightful with great acting: "A Millennial Job Interview" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo0KjdDJr1c (7,822,858 views)

    * And not related (note the illegal "And" here (Nice job, Dave!)), but solely for the hell of it, and because I love you all, or am really this lonely and desperate to feel as though I'm communicating with someone, do not miss "DEAR SATAN" at https://vimeo.com/246983302

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    1. Satan was good, but the Millennial Job Interview 😂😂😂👍

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    2. Well Steve. Your post certainly had me beat but I'm all good now. Sadly, I think you may be correct about Evan, the Word Detective, as a section soliciting donations has been crossed through.

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  10. So ..... No offence but, with all due respect, It is what it is David. At the end of the day it’s totes awks. Like the other day, I turned round to the Mrs and said “Enough is enough. The thing is, I personally hate all this bad chat’”. And she literally said “I know right, at this moment in time, talking proper is like well sick”. Seriously! Whatever ... Just sayin. Thanks in advance. Gotta Jog on cuz it’s Gin O’Clock. Laters. Steve.

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    1. Not certain if that's a complement, John, or another example of how the meaning of words can be altered!

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  11. What a great post. Had me nodding my head and laughing at the same time. I nearly fell over.

    My biggest hate is use of the word "humbled" when they actually mean "proud", e.g. "I was humbled to be offered this award".

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    1. Thanks Mark. To misquote Churchill many people, especially politicians, have much to be humble about.

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  12. Generally, I don't get annoyed at language usage that is different from mine as language use evolves and insisting on a particular variant is a definite symptom of 'old fartism'. It's also the case that context can mean that apparently incorrect usage is not actually wrong. For example, 'I've two choices here at a fork in the road' seems incorrect but is not if the speaker had previously been musing about whether they need to get their map out to help them make a decision. Their choices are 'should I get my map out' followed by 'which fork should I take' or, all too often in my case 'should I go back and get onto the path I should have been on'.

    Having said this, like you, I find the use of 'get' for 'have' remarkable and I so remarked to my daughter that there was no need for her to get a coffee as this was the waiter's job. Her response was that I was a pedantic arsehole so I only continue to remark on this when I want to annoy her.

    I do get irritated however by people who don't understand that unique means 'one and one only' so it is impossible for something to be 'very unique'. This is not evolving language it's simply ignorance of what the word means.

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    1. Hello Ian

      Super to hear from you. I agree that language does change. I ought to accept that fact. It's the inane nature of some of the changes that I notice, and where language is misused so that its meaning is less clear. I'd forgotten to mention 'very unique', which you rightly point out is a nonsense. Another idiocy is the misuse of 'literally' which is regularly used instead of 'metaphorically' and so is the very opposite of the meaning that the speaker intends. People interviewed on the news often seem to have been 'literally gutted' when something awful has happened.

      Another expression that is becoming more frequent is the response 'I'm good' when someone is asked how they are. And don't get me started on the unnecessary addition of the word 'even' as in "what does that even mean?"...

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  13. I enjoyed that blog post, thanks very much for sharing. I feel I must apologise as I am definitely guilty of saying that I'll 'reach out' to others in my blog posts. I hereby promise to put a stop to it! Failing that I do try and keep my grammatical standards up to a level and I could probably bleat on about a whole swathe of phrases and dare I say 'Americanisms' which have been creeping in to our English language. The one thing that seldom fails to stir up an unhealthy anger in me is when people use the American date format in things that are obviously meant for an English audience.

    I also hate it when people on Youtube/Netflix etc talk about how their next video or series is going to 'drop' on a certain day. Why does it drop?

    Did it help you to get these points off your chest on this blog? I'm wondering if I should follow suit and create my own rant!

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    1. Hi Barney

      Rant? Me? Never. I am the personification of calm and reasoned...

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