Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Poor Choice Of Words

We are dog fanciers, Mr. Cameron
One does not say that the Queen of England "purrs". Elizabeth II is not some pampered house cat.

The word "purr" might have expressed the Queen's attitude when she learned that the Scottish independent vote had gone her way. She wanted to keep Scotland under the United Kingdom umbrella. Her kingdom is small enough already and did some considerable shrinking over the course of her reign, so we would not be surprised to hear that she was quite pleased at the good news.

But to purr, like a contented cat?

Hardly the right word to use in reference to a monarch. Come to think of it, you really wouldn't want to describe any female as purring if you know what's good for you.

Now David Cameron has to find some other words to express how sorry he is that he claimed Her Majesty purred when he told her that Scotland was still British. For the use of one small word he must compile a string of others, because words have meaning beyond the surface. Words have a context and can express a larger thought without excess verbiage. It's all about showing, and not telling, and purr certainly shows that David Cameron should have thought a little longer about how best to tell anyone that Her Majesty was happy. Pleased would have been a better word. Delighted, perhaps. Thankful for the peaceful process that was the election.

But purr?

No, Mr. Cameron. The Queen isn't purring. By all accounts she is fuming at the insult contained in that nasty little four letter word. The comment was expressed to New York's former mayor Michael Bloomberg but having been uttered in a public place, it was overheard and then summarily reported by members of the press. What should have been kept to himself became a matter of much discussion in British circles, where that which is said between Queen and Prime Minister is not to leave the room when he walks out.

Writers are constantly being told to show, rather than tell. Can there be any better lesson than that learned by David Cameron?

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