Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Unparliamentary language

While researching my last post, I came across a very unintentionally funny page on Wikipedia: unparliamentary language. In a number of Parliamentary houses (including but not limited to Britain Canada New Zealand and Ireland plus serial commas), certain words and phrases have been banned.

Not as in super-injunction banned, but politeness banned. Remember that congressman here in the US calling Obama a liar? There's a word you're not allowed to use in almost any Parliament, at leats not when talking about a fellow MP.

Canada has a lot of banned phrases. I'd like to know the story behind them:

parliamentary pugilist (1875)
a bag of wind (1878)
inspired by forty-rod whiskey (1881)
coming into the world by accident (1886)
blatherskite (1890)
and especially, girouette (French for "weathervane") (Québec 2007)

The winner, though, is New Zealand, which has "his brains could revolve inside a peanut shell for a thousand years without touching the sides" and the priceless "energy of a tired snail returning home from a funeral".

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