02:26, March 24 143 0 theguardian.com

2019-03-24 02:26:05
The shifting patterns of English  
 May I have a word about... the many multiple sins against English

For some people, it’s the little things that truly offend; sins against the English language that cause them to believe that the whole glorious edifice is crumbling. One of my colleagues is roused to volcanic harrumphing by the use of the word “multiple”. He might like to avert his gaze now.

“Exercise program provides multiple benefits to nursing home residents”; “multiple churches burglarized in Back of the Yards: police”; “Sussex TK Maxx thefts – man charged with offences at multiple stores”; “Multiple animals killed in South Jersey barn fire”.

His point is a very simple one – what is wrong with using the word “many”? How right he is. And then he warms to his theme: “Ahead of an upcoming summit” – before. “Meeting with” – meeting. Sadly, these insidious infelicities now seem embedded and there appears little chance of extirpating them any time soon (another of his bêtes noires).

Anyway, let us move swiftly on to the exciting world of intellectual property and the wise insights of Josue Ortiz, director of ClearViewIP, who says: “Deep discovery of intangibles and systematic IP capture underpin the strategic management of IP.” Firing on all cylinders, he goes on: “The systematisation of all the stages of the IP journey into a turnkey portfolio of services has culminated in a track record of delivering direct and measurable commercial outcomes. It’s about delivering tangible outcomes from intangible assets.”

I feel that my harrumphing colleague would suggest Ortiz is talking tosh on multiple levels, but, being a little more charitable, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he’s just an enthusiast. But as for “burglarized” – don’t get me started.

Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist

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