Monday, 31 January 2011

Now I Understand

I was surprised when Li Na lost against Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open, given how resoundingly she'd beaten her a short time ago in Sydney. After reading this though, I think I understand:

Li Na may be the best performed, but she is still being performed - bring back the real world No. 7.

What Is Going On?

Is it possible the Australian has sacked all their copy editors - or were they just given a holiday this weekend? All these errors appeared in the weekend edition - and this is only from the handful of articles I've read so far. My husband claims there are just as many again in the sections he's been through:

 It may turn out to be a difficult task, but it's not helped by omitting indefinite articles.

 And a republic won't be made more likely by their omission from this passage either.

 Just because you're excited, it doesn't mean you can start mispelling 'excitement'.

 Apostrophes can be useful - is that a bid belonging to a continent or several?

 A definite article is inappropriate in front of 'Wimbledon'.

 Last time I looked, there was more than one person residing on the Gold Coast.

'Sam comforted Victoria for an hour and wrapped her in dry towels to keep her warm, as the torrent hurled trees into the house' - as things stand, the torrent appears to have been in charge of the dry towels.

 'It could build, build, build ...'-  I'm sure I know that song.

 The flood levy, spoken of with such trepidation in Labor circles that it needs two definite articles.

'be been'?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sharp Eyes

Helen Baxendale has just had a birthday and so she is now very, very old. Even so, she was able to spot this error, which is more than can be said for the copy editors at the Australian:


Friday, 28 January 2011

Liam Getreu Spotted This One

It's from the Age and you can see it here.

A Bit Unfair

Personally, I would decry those who discriminate, rather than those who are being discriminated against:

(From yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald)

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Eggs and Baskets

The new Premier of Victoria might want to consider increasing the number of major events in his state - surely one is not enough:
(That is from yesterday's edition of the Australian)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Hang On

I think most people are hoping it will remain a sliver of land, rather than a 'slither', thanks, Sydney Morning Herald:


Monday, 24 January 2011


To lose everything is bad enough - to lose almost everything is sometimes worse:

Well done, Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday, 22 January 2011

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Once upon a time Hansard, which is the official report of the debates in the nation's parliament,  was a byword for excellence. Now they've gone all 'work smart' and democratic, casting aside the old ways of doing things on the grounds that 'all that fuddy-duddy careful doublechecking was really such a waste of time' (and for 'time' read 'money'). As a result standards have dropped. Whereas once upon a time you'd have been hard-pressed to find a single fault in an entire year's output, nowadays I discover some new howler every time I open the thing. In this example from March last year, it becomes apparent that today's editors no longer know the difference between 'pour' and 'pore':

Friday, 21 January 2011

Loathsome Age

I am loath to tell you, Sunday Age, (actually that's not true - I can barely restrain myself), but your grasp of the English language is not strong:

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

You're Supposed to Be a National Newspaper

The Weekend Australian cannot tell the difference between 'reckless' and 'wreckless'. It's just pathetic:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Kindred Spirit

This excellent article seems to have been written by someone as pedantic as me. The reasons the writer suggests for the decline in written English are interesting.

The Crimes of the Canberra Times

I very rarely read the Canberra Times. I did yesterday though. I won't again, if I can help it:

'Less rights', 'wrecked havoc, 'an increase level' - is the thing run by illiterates?

Out Damned Assertion

I expected better from Harper's magazine:

Friday, 14 January 2011

Here Are Some I Made Earlier

Over the past few days the newspapers have been up to their usual tricks. Here are a few examples from recent editions of the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review.

Apostrophe alert - those valleys are plural, so you don't need an apostrophe (and this is from the FRONT PAGE of the Australian; it's really a bit poor):

 'Is also not likely to overly worry' or 'Is not likely to overly worry either', but not both:

 'Its' is wrong here:

 'Competed' sounds scary:

What does 'there is no only' mean:

 Germaine Greer can be intimidating, but that's no reason to start repeating your words:

There's no need to start talking pidgin English, just because you're talking about a Frenchman - 'when he decide to have':

It looks like Kate Middleton's dad is going to have his hands full on her wedding day:

Escorting up to a million people, even if they are well-wishers, could be trying.

You don't need 'in', if you've got 'since':

The question is actually 'which' - 'what' is a request for a definition:

When you haven't mentioned something before, you should say 'the', not 'this' before 'growing':
It wouldn't have done any harm to put a 'he' between 'on the basis that' and "would":

I think the phrase is 'Forewarned is forearmed':

(The advice re gloating Poms, by the way, included pointing out that only our batting has collapsed, not our banks.)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

It's Not a Decoration

Someone at the Australian Financial Review used an apostrophe once the other day and then thought it looked so nice that he'd use it again, just for the heck of it:

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Aim is to Inform

When you write an article - or when you edit an article someone else has written - it's good to keep in mind that the reader may possibly not know everything that you know. For instance, I would bet that very few of the readers of the Sydney Morning Herald have a clue what 'the wash from a stocking of berley' means:
Ideally, you might want to insert a parenthetical explanation at that point. Failing that, at the moment a little further on when the stuffing of stockings comes up again, you might want to consider referring back to that earlier sentence and pointing out that this is the 'berley' you mentioned then:

(Incidentally, given that the subject under discussion in the article is 'worms', where do the wriggling little feet fit in exactly:

As I understand it, it is in the nature of worms to be legless (so to speak). The question is: without legs, can there be feet?)

Like Proofreaders at the Sydney Morning Herald

None exists - none means 'not one', which is why it takes a singular verb:

Sorry to be Unsympathic But This is Pathic (Almost Bathic)

Look, Sydney Morning Herald, if you need a dictionary, just buy one. 'Empathy' is not part of the family that includes 'telepathy'; it is part of the family that includes 'sympathy'. As such, it forms the adjective 'empathetic', not the one you've invented:

(Incidentally, regarding the subject matter of that article, you might want to check your facts while you're at it. I'm not in my 60s, but there are plenty of people in my family who are, and I can't say there's much sign of any kind of age-related sweetness-and-light onset as far as they are concerned, more's the pity.)

Stop Changing the Subject

We were talking about fresh water, Australian, and suddenly you start blathering on about the properties of salt water:
Could you actually be trying to say, "Fresh water will be used in the mine but only saline water is good for dust suppression and it will then have to be evaporated away ..."? Word order - have you heard of it (or, if you prefer, "have it you of heard"), you fatheads?

What Exactly Was His Name?

Hey Australian, is he Scott Chisholm or Scott Chisolm? What if I want to write him a letter?

Verb and Subject

What is rare? Is cave paintings rare? Is images rare? Is boomerangs rare? Hey, Australian, I'm talking to you (from Tuesday's issue).

An Extreme Case

A football club in England thought it could manage without careful proofing, with predictable consequences here.

(Thanks to Mark Colvin for spotting the story).

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Adjectives and Nouns

Dear Australian
You shouldn't really need me to tell you this, but 'descendent' is an adjective and 'descendant' is a noun:

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Back to Basics

You can't say it often enough, apparently - the noun and the verb in a sentence have to agree. A singular noun goes with a singular verb; a plural noun goes with a plural verb.

Come on Sydney Morning Herald, it's 2011 now - surely someone in there made some kind of New Year's resolution? And yet, somehow, this crept onto your pages yesterday:

"...its plans ... does not"?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Step Away from the Spellcheck

Just because 'peak' rhymes with 'sneak', it doesn't mean you can 'take a sneaky peak'.

Comma Overboard

I thought their trouble was with the rain, rather than the forecast.

Wrong Question

In the Sydney Morning Herald's Summer section there is a quiz today. One of the things it asks is this:

Surely the better question would be: 'When did both Australia and Argentina play Germany in the World Cup, and was it really fair to have two ganging up against one?'

Monday, 3 January 2011

Shall I Be Mother?

Obviously, Audible is more concerned with the spoken than the written word - the clue is in the name. All the same, in their synopsis of this whodunnit, I wish they'd tell us what liquid was being sloshed over the Vatican's precious antique manuscripts - strong espresso or a glass of gin and tonic? I would really like to know: