Tuesday, 29 December 2009


From: "copywritink"
Subject: Freelance Copywriter from India

Dear Sir/Madam,
Greetings from India.
I am K.K. Varma- a copywriter who has been working in Mumbai, India for the past 20+ years. I happened to view your agency's site  and this has prompted me to correspond.   I request you to go through my profile, which details the kind of assignments i have handled. I have been handling writing assignments for some of Inida's leading corporations and have a good portfolio of work. The mediums that i work for include print, films, multimedia & the internet. I have also recently been writing manuals for software programmes and applications.
I would welcome an opportunity to handle outsourced writing assignments.
Amongst the clientile i work for - I am known for my creativity and my communication skills - typically in strategising communication to meet specific goals.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
 Yours truly,

Creative Copywriting.
Within Deadlines,
Without Dead  Lines!
K.K. Varma
Tel: 9821122132.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Daily Telegraph 1892

Just came across this, found behind an old mirror.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Santa makeover

(From The [London] Evening Standard 17.12.09

Overweight Santa 'needs a makeover'

Santa is a public health hazard - promoting obesity and drink-driving, experts have claimed.

Images of a fat, jolly and somewhat tipsy Father Christmas send out the wrong message and could damage millions of lives, they said. Instead of sitting back in his sleigh and breaking the speed limit, Santa should get off and walk or jog. Obese Santa also needs to swap the brandy and mince pies left out by hopeful children for carrots and celery sticks stolen from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Dr Nathan Grills and illustrator Brendan Halyday, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said the current image of Santa promotes obesity, drink-driving, speeding and a general unhealthy lifestyle.

Santa's universal fame means he is used by companies around the globe to sell all kinds of products, including unhealthy foods, they went on. For example, there is very high awareness of Santa among young children - higher than the McDonald's fictional character, Ronald McDonald. Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the authors said Santa used to also sell cigarettes but that has now been banned.

They went on to provide a full list of Santa's unhealthy behaviours, including encouraging fathers to step in and eat leftover mince pies, thereby expanding their own waistlines. With billions of homes to visit, Santa is also soon over the drink-driving limit due to too many brandies and sherries.
The authors conclude there is a need for Santa to undergo an image overhaul - one that promotes healthy living.

"We need to be aware that Santa has an ability to influence people, and especially children, towards unhealthy behaviour," they said. "Given Santa's universal appeal, and reasoning from a population health perspective, Santa needs to affect health by only 0.1% to damage millions of lives. We propose a new image for Santa to ensure that his influence on public health is a positive one."

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Plain English

Grateful to the Plain Language Commission (www.clearest.co.uk) for some interesting observations on the Plain English Campaign:  http://clearest.co.uk/?id=34

Fibs, foibles and fallacies: some notes on Plain English Campaign Ltd

“Paying the price for crystal balls” (2007)

In the light of research by the National Audit Office, Martin Cutts offers some thoughts on schemes that accredit the clarity of public documents; describes how the Department for Work and Pensions was bitten by a plain-English guarantee that didn’t deliver the goods; and wonders why the failure of the Crystal Mark scheme to fulfil its promises has been so richly rewarded by the department.

“Pupils see through the Internet Crystal” (2007)

Great claims are made for the Internet Crystal Mark, a logo that appears on websites supposedly written in plain English. Recently, a teacher complained that sites bearing the crystal were full of poor English. This article reveals the remarkable results of our investigation.

“Plain English Awards scandal: It’s clearly no contest as trophies for plain words go to promoter’s own customers” (2007)

Behind the annual Plain English Awards contest is a web of business relationships worth at least £500,000 between the promoter and several winners of its competitions.

Online Grammar Quiz

Check no-one's around, close the door, then try this quick grammar quiz.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Can one word sum up this decade?


As we enter the last few weeks of the 2000s, the Magazine is enlisting readers to tell the story of the last 10 years, based on five themes. Wordsmith Susie Dent begins the series with some suggestions for "words of the decade".
Language, as an American lexicographer once neatly put it, "is an uncompromising mirror... an untouched record of the thoughts, feelings, successes, failures, and intent of the people".
We are what we say, and as a shorthand summary of a single event or period in time, a word or phrase that came into prominence is hard to beat.
This opening decade of the 2000s - for which the nickname Noughties ultimately pipped all others - has generated a wealth of new words, and their resonance is likely to provoke strong memories.
Some of them are inextricably tied up with single events: 9/11 has become the only reference necessary to describe the terrorist attacks against America in 2001, events which spawned many further expressions, including axis of evil and moral crusade as well as allegations of sexing up and dodgy dossiers. More recently the current Great Recession has spawned a bemusing lexicon full of toxic debt and quantitative easing.
Neologisms - brand new words - speak strongly for the times they were coined for, even the fun ones. Bling characterised for many the opening years of the century, the perfect description of a celebrity- (or nonebrity-) obsessed culture intent on being as flashy as the people it idolised. Social networking has added a new flavour to our language: Twitter alone has given us tweets, twitts - even tweet-ups among the Twitterati.
Poking, to take just one word from the Facebook lexicon, is not a new word - it has simply taken on a new sense.
In fact many, if not most, of our "new" words are born of the same process of reinvention, including what is undoubtedly one of the most prominent words of the century thus far: chav. Once a Romany word meaning "child" (chavi) more than 150 years ago, it was relaunched quite spectacularly in 2005 when it became one of the most powerful (and derogatory) social labels in recent memory.
Some little-known terms also gained higher profile: as 2004 ended, the Asian tsunami forced a word unknown to many into the everyday vocabulary of millions. Closer to home, few people would have known about water bowsers - or predicted their value to thousands of flood-affected Britons in the summer of 2007.
Green has been indisputably the colour of the decade, leaving its carbon footprint across its years and prompting, among so much else, the arrival of Britain's first eco-towns. The threat of ecological disaster has been joined this year by fears of swine flu - itself overtaking the nightmare possibilities of H5N1 - and of an epidemic of globesity.
These are just some of the words characterising the last 10 years - there are many more to choose from and this is where you come in.
We want you to choose your word or words of the decade.
There is some flexibility about what kind of words and phrases are allowed, as long as they are actually used (does anyone really say staycation or is just a journalistic invention?). Proprietary names are also fine - we are, after all, the iPod generation.
Acronyms like Asbo or initialisms like WMD are acceptable, but people's names are not admissible (you can have your say about people of the decade on Tuesday), unless they transcend their names, as in Blairism or the Jade effect.
Otherwise, the choice is all yours. As a meerkat would say, simples.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Depressed text?

Are you ever stopped short by a word or phrase?

I've just recalled a phrase I heard a designer use a while ago. He wanted to "de-boss" some text. I guess this seemed the logical opposite of "emboss", so meaning text that is the opposite of raised. Is that "intaglio"? Which, admittedly, sounds a bit pompous. I haven't checked (nor heard it used again), but wonder what is used to describe text that is "impressed" or (perhaps) "depressed".

Came across this today, while struggling to learn how to edit my website (in Dreamweaver);

Text options:
Outdent?  I guess that if "indent" takes text away from the margin, "outdent" means to take text towards the left margin ....
I also noticed this recently:

(Published by mediabistro, an online editorial site:)
Who'd a thunk the highly publicized new TV comedy series starring movie cutie Heather Graham would get axed in record time: one week?

Quite like that, in fact.

Boule aux épices et aux fruits secs

Written by Martin Bentham and published in The Observer under the headline:

Garçon! There's a silly French word in my soup

Fed up with restaurant menus that talk about carpaccios, daubes and tagines? Well, at last, a backlash has begun against the proliferation of foreign words littering the menus of modern British restaurants.

The latest edition of the Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, the bible of the food industry, tears into the trend for using 'absurd' and 'fraudulent' words from French, Italian and other languages to describe what are often straightforward dishes that could be described simply in English.

Among the terms singled out for ridicule are 'millefeuille of aubergine' - which bears no resemblance to a puff pastry cake filled with jam and cream - and a 'capuccino of white beans' that has nothing to do with coffee. Scorn is also directed at a 'gateau of grilled vegetables', hardly suitable for those with a sweet tooth, and a 'bouillabaisse of sardines', which appears to have little connection with the Provençale soup or stew the name suggests.

The article is by former chef and restaurant critic Bill Knott, who says that such terms are a nonsense.

'The game of gastronomic Chinese whispers, in which a modish, foreign-sounding dish goes through so many incarnations that it has become completely meaningless, is all the rage,' he writes. 'Toast becomes bruschetta or crostini, a toasted sandwich is now a panini, a sauce is a jus or a coulis, and a stew is a daube or a tagine.'

He says that not only are the terms incomprehensible, they are also wrong. 'Many are thoroughly inaccurate and deeply misleading. Dishes I have seen on smart menus range from the faintly absurd to the distinctly fraudulent. Many chefs seem to think that food sounds better if it's not written in English.'

Michel Roux Jr, chef at London's Le Gavroche restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, said that he was also fed up with ludicrous descriptions.

'A carpaccio of courgette, what the hell is that? A carpaccio is of beef, not courgette. Similarly, you have a navarin of lobster, when it should be a navarin of lamb. It's totally inaccurate, and what annoys me even more is that nine times out of 10 the words are mis-spelt.

'I can understand and forgive a little bit of it when it's used in a clever way, by people who understand the terms, but if the words are just used as embellishment to dress up a rather sad menu, forget it.'

Marcus Wareing, chef at Petrus restaurant in London, said foreign words could be justified, but only if they were accurate and the quality of the food matched the description.

'I don't think there's anything wrong with using millefeuille or capuccino - it's quite nice - but it depends on what is actually being cooked. There is an element in cooking and restaurants that writes better than it delivers. It is very easy to put words on paper, but not so easy to put something exceptional on a plate.'

Knott said he had been prompted to speak out by the increasingly baffling menus with which he was confronted. Some, he suspected, used elaborate language in an attempt to justify higher prices.

'Some restaurants think that if you call something a daube you can charge £12, whereas if you said it was a stew you could probably only charge £8. At least with Italian and French menus you are supplied with a translation, but with modern British food many people just don't know what they are getting.

To help bemused diners, here are a few French translations which may (or may not) be helpful:

Hachis parmentier Shepherd's pie

Pot au feu d'agneau aux pommes de terre et aux oignons Lancashire hotpot

Saucisses en pote au four Toad in the hole

Boudin noir
Black pudding

Feuilleté de boeuf et de foie
Steak and kidney pie

Boule aux épices et aux fruits secs Spotted dick

Paid for not farming?

Someone sent me this. I guess it's a spoof, but fun anyway...


Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest pan of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque
for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?  I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an
e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.  I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Johnson-Hill

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Pigeon Island

Continuing the turquoise theme. Pigeon Island in the South Pacific. Rooms to rent. You could be there in a few days. Just get in touch with Ben.


Turquoise is 2010 colour of the year

Pantone has announced 15-5519 Turquoise as its colour of the year for 2010.
The company chose the colour for the new year as turquoise ‘transports us to an exciting tropical paradise while offering a sense of protection and healing in stressful times’.
Pantone’s vice-president of strategic business development Helmut Eifert says, ‘Turquoise occupies a very special position in the world of colour. It is believed to be a protective talisman, a colour of deep compassion and healing, and a colour of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky.
‘Through years of colour word-association studies, we also find that turquoise represents an escape to many – taking them to a tropical fantasy that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.’
Pantone has also included 15-5519 Turquoise as one of 200 ‘wedding colours’. Working with wedding dress manufacturers such as Dessy and Sandals Destination, Pantone aims to help brides colour co-ordinate their big day.


I find this a fascinating process. Of course, I'm sure you can end up scoring highly on readability etc and yet have text that is not very readable even if sentences are short and words are simple. I recently had to achieve certain levels of readability and, while I could get it to what I thought was fairly clear, I found it took a while longer to drive the readability down to below 12. And I'm sure I've read somewhere that the average reading age of ADULTS is equivalent to that of a 12-year-old. Frightening.


Reading age:

Less than one per cent of adults in England can be described as illiterate, although many people prefer not use such pejorative terms. Around 16 per cent, or 5.2 million adults in England, can be described as "functionally illiterate". They would not pass an English GCSE and have literacy levels at or below those expected of an 11-year-old.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


The importance of punctuation

Both paragraphs use exactly the same words. But see how different punctuation changes the sense completely:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men.
I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?


Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me.
For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?Yours,

Institute of Copywritting?

I love this. Just shows ...detail, detail...

(As it happens, I am a Member of the Institute of Copywriting -- wondering about becoming a tutor. But this is rather embarassing, to say the least!)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Found this on the beach a while ago. Part of a warning sign that originally said "Swimming beyond this notice is dangerous". Interesting how the writer chose the physical entity of the sign to be of primary importance, rather than perhaps the consequence or even the activity. I often find the same with clients wanting words emboldened, underlined and italicised or even used in a larger font, to ''jig things up a bit'.

New subject

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