A potentially fatal jellyfish-like creature has made a “very unusual” appearance on a Manx beach.
The Portuguese man-of-war was found near Langness in Castletown on Wednesday.

BBC News Online, October 19, 2017

Yet another Portuguese man o’war story. The problem with this one is that although ‘fatal’ is an adjective meaning deadly, it is not an exact synonym and applies only to events or actions, not to animals. You could have a ‘fatal error’, a ‘fatal accident’ or a ‘fatal snake-bite’, but not a ‘fatal snake’.


i newspaper, October 16, 2017

This is annoying. Here is someone making a good attempt to be accurate and explain that a Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish but a colony of different animals. It’s not perfect, mixing singular and plural in the second sentence, repeating ‘creature’ and possibly giving too much technical detail, but it’s creditable. Two days later this appears:

i newspaper, October 18, 2017

These are plainly Portuguese men o’ war, which as we have been told on Monday are not jellyfish. Has it become cool to be ignorant? Even if the photographer has not captioned the picture correctly, how hard is it to check what a man o’ war looks like? Incidentally their stings are painful but very rarely lethal, and only to those with allergy problems.

PS A very useful comment has been posted on this.


Daily Express, October 16, 2017

Lack of curiosity, Part 101: It beats me how someone can put this through without finding out what the world record is. Five seconds on Google reveals that it is 2,625lb, grown by a chap in Belgium last year. It might also be worth mentioning that the Patons’ pumpkin weighs more than a ton.


Sunday Express, October 15, 2017

The Times, October 16, 2017

Proof, if it were needed, that lines about the Queen being amused or otherwise are shocking cliches. You might think the idea is original but I have seen all the variations scores of times, and none is clever or funny.

(I cut the Times heading off a bit too closely – it is a TV review of Victoria.)


Sunday Express, October 15, 2017

Here is a refreshing piece speaking up for spiders and other less popular creatures but, as ever, the writer or sub has not been able to resist the knee-jerk adjective ‘pesky’. Let’s talk about animals in a sensible and adult way instead of treating them all as either cuddly or ‘scary’ (awful childish word), and referring to insects and other small things as ‘creepy-crawlies’. It is kindergarten language, and in my opinion everything deserves respect.


The Times, October 16, 2017

This story was in the i newspaper on Saturday, and in the previous post (232) I pointed out the appearance in it of both ‘gasses’ (incorrect) and ‘gases’ (correct). Amazingly, the same pair of words come up in this one. Is there some telepathic process at work? Or is someone doing shifts on both papers who thinks it is acceptable to spell a word two ways in one story? I’d love to know.


All the following cuttings are from the i newspaper, October 14, 2017

There may be a few i readers who do not watch Doctor Foster, so it is necessary to tell them that the woman in the picture is Suranne Jones, who plays the title role. You can’t leave them to guess.

This heading reads as if the judge is talking to his own daughter. A better version would be

Your mother loved you, judge tells girl, 12

Reporters are quite capable of spelling a word two different ways within two paragraphs, but a sub should spot this. For the record, I researched the correct use of gases/gasses for Style Matters. There is a lot of conflicting advice, but I settled on ‘gases’ as a plural of the noun ‘gas’ (the word needed here) and ‘gasses’ as the present tense of the verb ‘to gas’. I would use ‘tenth’ rather than ’10th’, in keeping with using words for numbers one to ten, and figures thereafter.

Careless and ignorant. ‘It’s’ is a short form of ‘it is’, while the possessive of ‘it’ is ‘its’.

‘Shared by’?! How about ‘from’? Or ‘In a statement, Hackney Empire said’ or, best of all, ‘Hackney Empire said’? Anything but ‘shared by’.

So why is it an issue about non-Asian singers? Because the play is set in an Asian restaurant and follows the story of a Chinese kitchen worker. It would be helpful for the reader to be told this.

Many Americanisms enrich the language, but the ghastly ‘snuck’ is not one of them. We would say ‘sneaked’, or I would have used ‘scraped’.

As for the panel (20 words), ‘The Orkney Islands are made up of 70 islands’ is very poor, not to mention the repetition of ‘inhabited’. This is how I would do it:

Orkney comprises 70 islands, 20 of them inhabited. They were first occupied by Mesolithic tribes at least 8,500 years ago. (20 words)

So did they tame the wind? No, they did more tests and concluded it was safe after all.

The heading is pretty bad. Flights are not ‘received’, and there should be some indication that it is the first. I would suggest

Maiden flight for
St Helena airport




The Times, October 13, 2017

Corny doesn’t begin to cover this headline. ‘Purrfect’ would have been old-fashioned in the 1950s. Other joke words which should never appear include pooch/mutt/moggy, boffin, toff, cad and jape. While on the topic of hoary rubbish, ‘egg’ or ‘eggs’ occasionally appears as a replacement prefix for ‘ex’, such as ‘eggcellent’ or ‘eggstraordinary’. There is not one variation that has not been used thousands of times, and they are all very tiresome.


The Times, October 13, 2017

‘Effectively’ and ‘in effect’ do not mean the same thing. ‘Effectively’ means the intended outcome was achieved, as in ‘Putting down poison effectively cleared the island of rats’, while ‘in effect’ means that something happened even though it might not have been intended, as in ‘Putting down poison in effect turned the island into a wildlife desert’. Most of the time ‘effectively’, if correctly used, would be redundant (as in my example above), while ‘in effect’ is nearly always the one that is required, as here. It should say either ‘ . . . are in effect to be given an amnesty’ or ‘ . . . are to be given an amnesty in effect’.