11 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 6

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Language, which

I am going to found as soon as I can spare the time, might very well begin by considering the case of " escalation," which the author of the last week's Note to Japan on naval ship-building throws about with as much nonchalance as if it enjoyed all the consecration which use by Shakespeare or the translators of the Bible would give it, instead of being horribly devised, as I firmly believe it to have been, by one of the underlings of Mr. Duff Cooper or his predecessor. What on earth would anyone understand, who hit on the phrase out of its context, by " the right of escalation " possessed by His Majesty's Government ? The privilege of riding on escalators, presumably. No dictionary, of course, knows the word as yet. But it has probably made its footing good, and will be used eternally to denote the right of increasing the number or tonnage of one's own ships to keep pace with another country's increase.

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