SOME time ago you had correspondence about bad English. Two complainants themselves made a bad mistake. I wrote at the time, but in vain.

Last weekend the same bad mistake appeared in your magazine, the bad word even appearing in a headline ("I have cringed so often at the rudeness and vulgarity of Britons", Herald Magazine, November 3).

It was the popular but execrable “cringe” used as if it meant “wince”. “Cringe” comes from a French word meaning “to bow low”. Unless you are grovelling and kowtowing you are not cringing.

One of my sons, an otherwise sensible man in his fifties, tried to assert that you can grovel and wince at the same time. I challenged him to demonstrate; he had to admit that you cannot.

Whenever a non-groveller says “that makes me cringe”, we must all say, “No it doesn’t”.

Moyna Gardner,

28 Hamilton Park Avenue, Glasgow.

TODAY (November 8) I watched the Treasury Select Committee cross-examine the Chancellor on a variety of subjects. I was carrying out my normal household duties whilst doing this.

I found his answers to be very clear and statesman-like, albeit I disagreed with some of his views. He remained calm and unruffled unlike some of his questioners.

What I did find very annoying was that he answered many questions with a sentence starting with "so". What is the point of this word?

It seems that any answer to a question must start with "so". This happens on many programmes – Today, Question Time, PM and many others.

Where did it come from? I am guessing a business management course some years ago.

It seems to something that afflicts the middle classes and well-educated population. I can't imagine Prince Charles answering a question without this useless prefix, nor can I imagine my refuse collector replying to a question about recycling saying: "So I think that should be in a different bin".

If a question cannot be answered immediately, just pause but please do not prefix the answer with "So".

Malcolm Rankin,

107 Ardrossan Road, Seamill.