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Rees-Mogg’s style guide

July 27, 2019

I see that Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esq., M.P. has issued a set of writing guidelines for the staff in his new office, imposing various antiquated and unnecessary strictures. For example, untitled males are to be dubbed Esquire, just like in the olden days. For some reason, the word ascertain is not allowed. It was also a very great disappointment to me to learn that the word very is banned, along with disappointment. The titles Miss and Ms are to be written without a full stop after them, which I thought was common practice anyway; however, M.P. does get full stops, which seems to go against the grain of current usage. (The trend in British English for a long time has been to dispense with full stops after initials, although Americans are still keen on them.) Rees-Mogg also says that and should never be followed by a comma and, in a bold bid to eradicate one of the most useful and versatile words in English, he has forbidden the use of got. (Would he prefer gotten?)

There are a few rules that I am in sympathy with, such as the banning of yourself used to mean you. But the general tendency of the rules seems to be deliberate idiosyncrasy and archaism. Very odd to reflect that Rees-Mogg is younger than me.

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  1. Mark Allan Brafield permalink

    These things are, I hope you may agree, largely a matter of personal taste, and whilst I do not agree with almost all of his politics, I am quietly glad that he has at least made people think about questions of style. I agree with not saying ‘yourself’ when you mean ‘you’, and personally I hate the increasing use of ‘got’ as when young people say ‘can I get a cup of coffee’, meaning either ‘may I have a cup of coffee’, or (less polite) ‘could you please get me a cup of coffee’.

    There was much mirth on Facebook over these guidelines, along the lines of ‘if I write that Jacob Rees-Mogg is a complete bellend, should that be hyphenated or or not ?’

    On the subject of his age, a recent teaser was doing the rounds; who is younger, Kylie Minogue or Jacob Rees-Mogg ? The answer, obviously, is Kylie.

  2. Mark Allan Brafield permalink

    CORRECTION – the answer, of course, is Rees-Mogg !

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