Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hiding the agent

Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary who is embroiled in a scandal about his relationship with an "adviser", has made some mistakes apparently, not that he would put it that way. He would say "I accept that it was a mistake to allow distinctions to be blurred between my professional responsibilities and my personal loyalties to a friend". And that, as Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian says, is a pretty rubbish way of saying sorry.

Freedland's article looks closely at Fox's slippery language, particularly his abuse of the passive voice, a grammatical technique that he describes as "grammar's way of telling you somebody is hiding something", which is a neat turn of phrase. It's a good bit of textual analysis and something that would make a sound starting point for a language investigation.

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