When British English is a foreign language

Published: April 26, 2017 at 7:04pm

In my previous post, I wrote that the general election is to be called for 17th June and that the ballot papers “are being printed for that date”.

The Prime Minister’s communications aide has gone ballistic, shrieking all over his blog and calling me a liar (their insult of choice right now) spouting “big, fat lies”.

The ballot papers aren’t being printed, he said, because the candidates lists have not been opened yet.

This is what happens when British English is a foreign language. The nuances of context in which the verb is framed are lost in translation.

So for Glenn Bedingfield’s benefit, and of others who are foxed by the nuances of English tenses, I have changed “are being printed for” to “are to be printed for”.

At this rate I’m going to be writing Ladybird Books.

Of course, the real reason the Prime Minister’s aide has reacted so wildly is because I’ve gazumped his boss’s big announcement.