I don’t suppose either Jacqui Lambie or Glenn Lazarus is a regular reader of my blog, but I owe them both an apology.

Last night, on the popular ABC TV programme ‘Q&A’ Jacqui Lambie (pictured below) stated forecully that she would not be blackmailed. This was in connection with the present shenanigans in the Australian Senate, where she sits as an independent. She was referring to the pressure being applied by the Government to independent senators (the ‘cross-benchers’) to pass a contentious bill or face an early election and perhaps lose their seats.


“That’s not blackmail!” I spluttered. “How dare these people mangle my language, the language of Shakespeare, the language of Milton, the language of J K Rowling!”

This morning Glenn Lazarus, another independent senator, was reported as saying exactly the same thing, so I spluttered again – while eating porridge.

But before sitting down to post about it I checked the Oxford English Dictionary and found the following:


  • n. the action of demanding money from someone in return for not revealing discreditable information.  >  the use of threats or unfair manipulation in an attempt to influence someone’s actions.
  • v. subject to blackmail.

– DERIVATIVES blackmailer n.

– ORIGIN C16 (denoting protection money levied by Sc. chiefs): from black + obs. mail ‘tribute, rent’, from ON mál ‘speech, agreement’.

I think the little arrow symbol means ‘Derived meaning’ or something like that. If so, I have to concede that ‘the use of threats or unfair manipulation… ‘ comes pretty close to what Ms Lambie and Mr Lazarus meant. So… sorry for spluttering at you.

However, I offer only condemnatory bile to those who persist in using ‘bacteria’ and ‘criteria’ as singular forms. I frown at those using ‘data’ in this way, but that battle’s lost already.

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