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I am not going to comment on the recent ball-tampering scandal in cricket except to say that, along with everyone else, I am dismayed and astonished. But I did notice that, obviously under the stress of high emotion, various speakers seemed to lose control of the English language. First there was Steve Smith who remarked that he and the team were regrettable. This may be true but it is not what he intended to say.

Then there was the commentator who came unstuck over the meaning of impunity. This often happens with a word which survives in a particular phrase but doesn't have much frequency outside that phrase. Take fell in one fell swoop as an example.  The phrase with impunity is common enough, but the commentator attempted to use impunity on its own, as in The team demonstrated shocking impunity. Obviously, for this person, impunity has become a synonym for brazenness.

Let us hope that such misuses disappear as the distress fades.

Sue ButlerComment