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Monday, June 20, 2005

On the couch

There are times when you just cannot swim against the tide, when the public speaks and no matter how uncomfortable you are with what they say you have to accept that their will is settled and nothing will change it. Thus it is that farmers demonstrating to remove the term "couch potato" from the dictionary because they fear its negative connotations are putting people off buying the vegetable are being rather too ambitious.

The reason why they will not succeed with this campaign was outlined by John Simpson, the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, who said the phrase was first included in 1993. The first record of it was in an article in the Los Angeles Times in 1979. He said: "When people blame words they are actually blaming the society that uses them. Dictionaries just reflect the words that society uses. We monitor words in the language and what's out there. Our dictionaries describe - not prescribe."

I think we can all accept that in most of their incarnations potatos are a healthy food which is low in fat and high in vitamin C. However, nothing is going to divert us from the fact that in its uncooked state it is an ugly little critter that looks very much like an overweight and lazy person slouched on a couch in front of the TV.
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