Gove on grammar, again

The former Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has been appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of Justice, has been criticised for ‘patronising’ civil servants with his take on grammar. As an English graduate from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Gove is known not to play coy when voicing his opinion on correct usage. In 2013, he instructed civil servants in the Department for Education by providing his 10 golden rules. Now, he is back again with his grammatical ‘preferences’ which include avoiding impact as a verb and starting sentences with however, using contractions such as doesn’t or don’t as well as the word ensure. 

Intrigued by this, the Independent looked at some articles which Gove wrote for The Times during his time as a journalist and found that, despite his disapproval of starting sentences with however, Gove doesn’t strictly follow his own rule.(Or should I say does not?)

What is interesting, however, are not just his 10 golden rules, but also the reactions towards these rules, such as a source in Whitehall quoted in the article states: “It does feel like the sort of thing someone would do when they have too much time on their hands.” What do you think about his 10 golden rules? Are they the product of a man with too much time on his hands?

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About Carmen Ebner

Carmen Ebner is a PhD candidate at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics and currently investigates attitudes towards British English Usage. Carmen is part of the project Bridging the Unbridgeable: linguists, prescriptivists and the general public, which is supervised by Prof Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade.
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