Thursday, 18 August 2011

Gutted

A miniature of the decline of the British education system. Twelve A-Level papers this year had serious errors on them, ranging from unanswerable questions to missing pages. Here's Mark Dawe, chief executive of the awarding body OCR: "We regret those mistakes and we are very sorry about them. We can reassure candidates that significant work has been undertaken to ensure they get the grades they deserve. You can't help but be gutted when mistakes are made."

'Gutted'? Gutted?! This just confirms my general feeling that what has been lost in British culture recently is a sense of appropriateness, here linguistic. There's nothing wrong with the word, but it's at best a slang term not suitable for a formal statement by the head of a national examination board. The man's obviously got a tin ear for register, which doesn't fill me with confidence. 'Gutted' also has overtones of a particular kind of lugubrious male self-pity which is out of place in a professional press-release. 'Gutted' is what you are when you write off your Vauxhall Corsa. 'Gutted' is what you are when your football team loses, or you find out your girlfriend of two months is pregnant. Possibly I'm just being an appalling snob here---after all, who knows? Perhaps Mr Dawe was too knackered to think straight this morning because he went down the bloody boozer last night with his new bird and they got a bit hammered. Like, ferchrissake.

[Comments welcome on how informal/jarring people find 'gutted'---or not.]

6 comments:

Gordon said...

Yeah you might be right, there.

Alternatively, he could be deliberately using a jarring word to convey his personal disappointment. Official statements are ubiquitous and usually quite bland. This may yield better cut through?

But that's being very charitable.

Christopher Pressler said...

I have always hated the use of that word, frankly in any context. I am not surprised to find it in a press statement though. Recently, I found an even worse one. On a Ryanair flight (I know, I brought it on myself) the hostess asked us to stay in our seats and 'chillax.' I am still trying to recover from the shock...

Bo said...

I spotted that one too!

David Brodie said...

Mark Dawe could have said that he apologised for any distress caused and that lessons had been learned and there were measures in place to make sure that such errors never happened again.

Bo said...

Indeed.

Suem said...

Entirely in agreement. Do you remember the death of Dr David Kelly and the phrase "sexed up documents". It did irritate me to keep hearing that on Radio 4.

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