Defy irate monks, but not to form an elite order of nimbles and ...



Defy irate monks, but not to form an elite order of nimbles and clevers

A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times

In my younger and less grammatical years I found the “carrot and stick” analogy very confusing. Surely the carrot that was dangled in front of a lazy, carrot-loving animal to make it move had to be tied to the end of a stick? Otherwise the mule or llama or alpaca would simply eat the carrot and sit down again.

To create a driving force, both carrot and stick were needed, so why did this idiom force us to choose between the two? When I finally twigged that there was another stick, not the one used as a fishing rod with carrot as bait but a rod applied with force from behind, the metaphor about reward versus punishment made more sense.

One could argue that the unattainable carrot is just as cruel as the beating stick, but the people who came up with the idea were certainly creative. In some parts they would be called “creatives”...

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