#514

The Times, December 30, 2019

This is an example of the lack of curiosity that I feel infects today’s subs. As a reader, I see the words: ‘The Prince of Wales was the hardest-working, attending 521 functions. This was more than his sister, the Princess Royal, who is historically the most industrious’ and I think: ‘Hmm, that’s interesting, I wonder how many more?’ I have to wait for two more paragraphs and into the second leg before I am told that Anne carried out 506 engagements. I then have to subtract 506 from 521 to come up with the answer: 15. I find this irritating.

The sub should always imagine being the reader and predict what the reader is going to want to know next. The sub should also never make the reader do mental arithmetic. In this case, the second paragraph should have read: ‘The Prince of Wales was the hardest-working, attending 521 functions. This was 15 more than his sister, the Princess Royal, who is historically the most industrious. Her 2019 total was 506.’

I question whether 15 engagements in a tally of more than 500 constitutes an ‘eclipse’. Granted, eclipses can be partial, but the average reader will envisage a total eclipse, which is far from what the story says. A better word would be ‘replaces’.

 

 

#513

The Times, December 26, 2019

The word ‘local’ is nearly always superfluous, eg ‘He took the dog to a local vet’ (not a vet 200 miles away). This is a particularly egregious example. Local to what? Delete it. Incidentally, I would say ‘passers-by’ with a hyphen.

#512

i newspaper, December 11, 2019

This is clumsy. You should not make the reader wait so long for the surprise: that he is nearly 80. Having said that he is ’80 tomorrow’, you really do not need to say that he is 79 today.

Improving it is simple.

First sentence: Turning 80 tomorrow, Eric Marshall still climbs . . . light display.

Second sentence:  He spends all of November . . .

 

 

 

 

#511

Flustered Phillip Schofield blames ‘too much’ booze as he messes up This Morning segment after coiffing champagne with Holly Willoughby amid feud rumours

Mail Online, December 11, 2019

Extraordinary. Phillip correctly spelled with two ls (not often achieved) yet ‘coiffing’ instead of ‘quaffing’.

1. ‘Coiffing’ is to do with hairdressing.

2. ‘Quaffing’ is an old-fashioned word on the lines of toff, cad and flame-haired as I mentioned in my previous post.

 

 

 

#510

Sunday Times, December 8, 2019

‘Flame-haired’ is as old-fashioned as toff, cad and boffin. In any case, why refer to her hair colour? Would you say a man is red-haired? Is it surprising that a mathematician should have red hair? Unless the point of the story is her hair colour, don’t mention it.

#509

The Times, November 29, 2019

1. The expression is ‘Ooh la la’, not ‘Oh’.

2. There are no accents on ‘la’. (Some authorities say there are but they are in a tiny minority.)

3. If you can’t think of anything better than this frightful cliché, you should not be in the business.

 

 

#508

i newspaper, November 2, 2019

 

From Style Matters:

enormity: This has nothing to do with size. It means the quality of being outrageous or atrocious, as in ‘the enormity of the crime’. Although it is commonly misused, and some authorities are fine with this, I don’t see any reason to get it wrong.

 

Later in the same piece:

 

Why ‘but’? This implies something unexpected or different. So are we to assume that i newspaper readers are familiar with the usual weight per foot of Australian saltwater crocodiles, and can make the necessary calculation that this one is a bit on the heavy side? The conjunction needed here is ‘and’.

 

 

 

 

#507

Sunday Times, October 29, 2019

Complete lack of curiosity, Part 99: These two items appeared on the same page of the Sunday Times Culture supplement. I am at a loss to know how a sub could have sent them through without finding out the ages of the recording artists involved. Is there anyone in there?

#506

The billionaire owners of the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph are to put both titles up for sale.

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay are understood to be reviewing all of their key assets, which includes the Telegraph Media Group (TMG).

[ . . . ]

Aidan Barclay, 63, and Howard Barclay, 59, are thought to be evaluating the family’s businesses on behalf of their father, Sir David Barclay, and his 84-year-old twin Sir Frederick.

BBC News Online, October 29, 2019

It is hard to explain how stupid it is to say ‘his 84-year-old twin Sir Frederick’, and frankly if someone can’t see it, he or she is taking money under false pretences. The age of the twins needs to go in the second par, thus:

The 84-year-old twins Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay are understood to be reviewing all of their key assets, which includes the Telegraph Media Group (TMG).

This immediately adds  the fact that they are getting on a bit, and it does not assign an age to one twin leaving open the possibility that the other could be a different age.

As an aside, I have many times seen this kind of thing: ‘The twins, who are both 16’. Unless they were born each side of midnight at New Year, this goes without saying. You do not need to point out, either, that boy and girl twins are not identical. I know it is obvious but again it is something I have seen repeatedly.

Finally:

Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay are understood to be reviewing all of their key assets,

‘all of’ is wrong. It should be ‘all their key assets’. Why add a word that is not necessary?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#505

Sunday Times, October 20, 2019

Not everyone is great at spelling, but it is the most basic requirement for a sub. If the writer put the incorrect ‘sewing’ and a sub let it through, the sub needs sacking. If the writer put the correct ‘sowing’ and the sub changed it, the sub needs sacking.