Thursday, 10 October 2013


        An article in today's Times magazine is entitled "How did this man [Murad Ahmed] convince Mark Zuckerberg to pay $1 billion for an app that makes no money?
        And according to the Telegraph of 6th October, "Prince Harry has convinced his girlfriend to marry him..." and the article goes on,

"Australia gives a rapturous reception to the Prince as freinds [sic] say his girlfriend is ready to settle down and predict a wedding next year"...

Even the misspelling of the word "friend" does not annoy me so much as the now-ubiquitous misuse of the word "convince" when they mean "persuade."
     I am not surprised when I come across this in the gutter press such as the Mirror or the Guardian, or gossip blogs such as "Celebitchy":-

There used to be such a thing as a quality newspaper, which meant that even though you couldn't believe all the news and knew it had been obtained by bribery, eavesdropping and phone-tapping, you could at rely on it being written by somebody who had passed O-level English language. That alas, is no longer true. The shrinking pool of people in this country who did or could pass such an exam is now smaller than the number of WWII veterans, and dying off at an even faster rate.
          I still fight a lone, almost single-handed battle against the horrific "for free" and painstakingly point out to complete strangers that the present continuous tense of the the verb to sit is "sitting" and that of the verb to stand is "standing"  - not "sat" and "stood". If I had time I would complain to Ofcom whenever I hear someone say on TV or radio  "I am sat at home right now", or "She is sat in an armchair..." or "They are stood over there on the other side of the road..."   If we had spot fines for this sort of horrendous deformity of language, it might help to pay off our deficit or reduce the National Debt.
       There is growing hostility to the idea of correctness. The BBC fosters a quasi-East-enders mode of speech as the norm. The term "grammar Nazi" implies that if you believe in clarity of expression you are guilty of genocide. Publishers no longer bother to weed out grammatical or lexical errors. The copy writers who work for supposedly upmarket publishing houses no longer have the education to do this. Let me say once and for all that you PERSUADE somebody to do something, but you CONVINCE them of an idea, or a belief. If Prince Harry wishes to PERSUADE his girlfriend to marry him (an act) he needs to CONVINCE her that they are compatible in the long term (a belief) and that life in the royal family would be bearable (another belief).
    The confusion arises because if you convince them of an idea, it may change their behaviour. But the distinction remains. I suppose I should mind much more about the fact that in the same Times magazine, a restaurant reviewer called Giles Coren tells us that Burgundy is in the "South-West" of France. But I don't. Geographical dyslexia doesn't really bother me.
     The curious thing is that Jane Austen, who had very little school education, and taught herself by reading, understood the difference between "convince" and "persuade" perfectly well. Otherwise, she might have called her last completed novel "Conviction".

1 comment:

  1. hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: How To Convince A Girl .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.