The Foot in Mouth Award 不知所云奖
The UK’s Business Secretary Wins an Embarrassing Award 英国商务大臣获一尴尬奖项
When did you last look around a corner? Did you do it thoroughly?
If you think that question is a little odd, you’re not alone. Every year the Plain English Campaign collects perplexing examples of English usage as part of a drive for language that everyone can understand.
In an annual awards ceremony, the Campaign highlights jargon and gobbledegook used by official bodies in their literature. They also give someone in the public eye a "Foot in Mouth" award for making the most baffling remark of the year.
This year that dubious honour goes to one of the most powerful people in Britain: Lord Mandelson, the government’s Business Secretary. He earned the black mark for these comments, which he made in May:
"Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners, but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right."
Although his meaning is unclear, Mandelson’s remarks appear to be a classic example of a metaphor being stretched that little bit too far.
The Campaign also awarded the Department of Health a Golden Bull Award for describing an initiative as "refocusing upstream to stop people falling in the waters of disease". Eh?
American Airlines were also rapped for sending a passenger a "property irregularity receipt". "Property irregularity" is code for lost luggage. The Plain English Campaign described this as "an acknowledgement sent to a passenger that avoids the real problem of lost luggage".
For many Brits, Peter Mandelson’s accolade has an especially sweet irony. For years he was the government’s top spin doctor. People including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have turned to Mandelson when looking for the right way to phrase things.
What hope is there for English language learners when even renowned masters of communication make a mess of things?