Lecturers lectured on Queen's English

July 13, 2007

Academics are not renowned for their clear use of English, but managers at Queen's University Belfast have become so concerned at the clumsy and impenetrable language of their staff that they have issued a language guidebook.

The booklet, A Way with Words , will help to ensure that staff say what they mean, according to vice-chancellor Peter Gregson.

Staff must distinguish between "may" and "can", especially when writing to students, it stresses.

"Can applies to what is possible and may to what is permissible... Therefore students can miss every tutorial on their course, but may not if tutorial attendance is a prerequisite for passing."

In minding one's Ps and Qs, the booklet suggests, extra care should be paid to the latter: "Queen's in Queen's University Belfast takes an apostrophe before the s. Making a mistake in the institution's name is not acceptable."

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