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The Death of Twice

Well, it looks as though the word “twice” is biting the dust here in North America. Television advert after television advert insists that New such-and-such is “two times” as strong or effective, or whatever, than Old such-and-such or its nearest rival. I was always taught that one word is better than two and simple words were better than long ones. So, what’s happened to “twice”? I suspect that the smart folks who conduct consumer surveys and market research have cottoned onto the fact that an increasing number of Canadians don’t speak English as their first language. The country takes in something like 250,000 immigrants a year, who feed into a population of around 30 million. So, English-language advertising is being simplified to sell detergent and soap powder. If a good word must be killed off, then so be it.
As a writer, I look on the English language as a tool and I take an interest in it. It never ceases to amaze me that so much of what I consider good English usage used to set the teeth of language purists, some would say language fascists, on edge in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the beauties and strengths of the English language is that it is always evolving. But I seem to remember there was a time when people pushed against changes. Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. But nowadays I seldom see a letter to the editor or a pundit pushing back against the ever-increasing torrent of poor English we’re being subjected to on a daily, nay hourly, basis in the media. I don’t know if it’s too late for British readers of this blog to come to the rescue of “twice” before it suffers the fate of such old favourites as “please” and “thank you”. But that’s another rant: along with…… oh, never mind.


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