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News & views

‘Fifty Shades’ presenter left tongue-tied by new verb

[27 Aug 2012] It’s not often that Radio Fivelive’s Peter Allen is lost for words. But when he asked the director of a women’s refuge whether she was really going to burn copies of EL James’s S&M novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ on 5 November, he could be heard spluttering ‘What?’ when she said: ‘We did dilemma-ize about it.’

Clare Phillipson, of Wearside Women’s Refuge, ignored Allen’s attempted interruption and ploughed on, later saying society had become ‘pornified’. At this, Allen – who is famously averse to jargon – interjected ‘What?’ again, only to be ignored by the forceful Phillipson, who said later: ‘What we are saying is: this book is rubbish and we would like to reduce it to ashes.’

It’s been a bad time for anyone like Allen who worries about nouns being verbed. The Olympics coverage included many examples of athletes ‘medalling’ and even a few of them ‘podiumming’, as in ‘he podiummed in the 200 metres’. Perhaps the most inventive was the commentator and former cyclist Chris Boardman, who screamed 'Can Chris Hoy braveheart himself one more time?' as the Scottish biker cannonballed (see, anyone can do it) towards the finishing line.

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