Professor Sebastian Bryson-Bragg Explains the Third Mood

Following Penny Post’s successful series of articles on artistic subjects from Sir Courtney Inchbold-Grist (such as here and here), we are delighted that Sir Courtney was able to introduce us at a recent Masonic initiation dinner in Inverness to a friend of his, Sebastian Bryson-Bragg, Professor of Neological Linguistics at the University of Stoke Poges. Few of our readers will be unfamiliar with Professor Bryson-Bragg’s seminal three-volume history of the indefinite article, An A, nor of his theory that modern English owes more to the native American Chipuiddickane dialect than to Anglo-Saxon, Latin or Norman French.

In what we intend to be a series of hard-hitting pieces on semantic matters, Professor Bryson-Bragg here explains what he terms ‘The Third Mood’ with particular reference to the verb ‘to be clear’.


Hi! Call me Prof BB, which is what my students do (or some of them!) I like to think I’m a pretty approachable kind of guy and that I tell things how they are with a smile on my face – which has got to be a good thing! Someone told me that I was the Tony Blair of neological linguistics and you don’t get any higher praise than that in my book (and I’ve written a few)!

You’ve probably noticed that I like to use exclamation marks (!) Not quite the image of a stuffy professor of words! Hey, that’s just showing how enthusiastic I am! I’m so happy that God has given me this gift of communication. If that needs extra punctuation now and then to really sock it home, so be it! If you want to learn you’ve got to make it fun 🙂

Right guys – let’s get seriouso. What’s this third mood, then? Nothing to do with tri-polar disorder! I’m talking verbs. We know about the active and the passive, don’t we? ‘I ate’ and ‘I have been eaten’? Well, there’s a third: the manipulative. This is a recent addition to grammar so don’t go looking for it in the books (except mine, natch)! It first appeared in the early 1980s and is generally found in only two areas of life: marketing and politics. Example time!


• The rest of this story is now available in a paperback book (as are 25 others) – Unaccustomed as I Am (RRP £9.95).

It is stocked by the Hungerford Bookshop and you can place your order here.

Copies are also available at the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough, the Mad Hatter Bookshop in Wantage and through an increasing number of other retailers.

You can order it from any bookshop: they will need to know that the ISBN is 978-1-8382580-0-9 and that it can be ordered from Gardners or Central Books.


Prof BB

• For further articles, please click here
• For rants and musings set to music, please click here



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