#557

The Times, July 8, 2021

I literally gasped when I saw this shocking piece of ignorance. This is the Times! Whoever let this through or changed it from the correct version should be sacked.

It is essential to know the rules about ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ because if you get it wrong it is as good as having ‘Plonker’ written on your forehead.
This is from Style Matters:

lay: This is the past tense of the verb ‘to lie’ as in ‘I lay on the ground yesterday’ and is also the transitive verb (transitive means it must take an object; it cannot stand alone) ‘to lay’ as in ‘the hen lays eggs’ or ‘I am going to lay the table’. The past tense of ‘to lay’ is ‘laid’. Of course, as everyone knows, ‘lay’ and ‘laid’ are also colloquial sexual expressions and great care must be taken to avoid an inadvertent double meaning. However the chief offence is using ‘lay’ instead of ‘lie’, as in ‘I’m going to lay down’, ‘She is laying on the bed’ or ‘The lion lays in wait for its prey’, or using ‘laid’ instead of ‘lay’, as in ‘He laid on his bed’. To complete the confusion there is the verb ‘to lie’ or tell an untruth. This one is comparatively simple, however.

 

A brief tour round the tenses:

to lie (as in recline)

present: I lie on the bed, he lies on the bed/I am lying on the bed

past: I lay on the bed, he lay on the ground

participle (with a form of have) I/he/we have/has/had lain on the bed

Note that the word ‘laid’ does not exist in this verb.

to lay (as in to put or place, followed by an object)

present: I lay the table, the hen lays eggs/I am laying the table

past: I laid the table, the hen laid eggs

participle: I/she have/has/had laid the table

Note: this is the only polite use for the word ‘laid’.

to lie (as in to tell an untruth)

present: I lie, he lies/he is lying

past: I/he lied

participle: I/he have/has/had lied

 

 

 

 

 

 

#556

It was the duke’s first public appearance since the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Phillip on 17 April. His wife the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, stayed at home.

BBC News Online, May 5, 2021

Can you believe that there is at least one person at the national broadcaster who cannot spell Prince Philip (two if they bother to have someone checking work)?  This is how you spell Phillip Schofield, who presumably is better known to the young people at the corporation.

 

#555

Charity shops tell donators: ‘Think before giving’

BBC News Online, April 15, 2021

Why use the right word when you can add a syllable? ‘Donors’ is the word wanted here. I am amazed to find ‘donators’ given as an alternative in some dictionaries. As far as I am concerned there is no such word.

#554

When a powerful upward draft reaches the top of the lower atmosphere, or troposphere, it will normally flatten and spread out to form that classic anvil shape.

BBC News Online, March 27, 2021 

This would be ok in America, but in British English, a draft is a preliminary piece of work or a money order. The spelling wanted here is draught.

#553

The latest food recall comes from supermarket giant Tesco who is recalling one of their cheeses.

Daily Express, January 16, 2021

I’ve just come across this object lesson in not mixing singular and plural. It can be hard to decide whether a firm or group of some sort is singular or plural but you need to make a choice and stick to it. I can only presume that the numbskull who wrote this does not understand the difference.

It is not necessary to prefix Tesco with ‘supermarket giant’. I am confident that anyone who can read will know that Tesco is not a firm of accountants.

As an example of the sort of rubbish that is now considered acceptable journalism, here is the full story as it appeared online, complete with repetitions and veering into a different topic. As a bonus, it contains information that it is unsafe to eat food items containing pieces of metal.

Tesco issues urgent recall on cheese amid Listeria contamination fears

TESCO is recalling one of its cheeses because it contains Listeria monocytogenes and the warning was issued by the Food Standards Agency.

Food recalls are issued when a discovery is made or there are safety issues surrounding a product that might endanger the consumer. The latest food recall comes from supermarket giant Tesco who is recalling one of their cheeses.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has shared the details on the food item which is being recalled.

It states: “Tesco is recalling Tesco Finest Taleggio 200g because it contains Listeria monocytogenes.”

The use by date which customers need to check for is January 25, 2021.

All batch codes are affected and consumers are being warned not to eat this product.

Some people are extremely vulnerable to Listeria infections, including those over 65 years of age, pregnant women and their unborn babies as well as babies less than one month old.

People with weakened immune systems are also more at risk of the infection.

The FSA added: “Symptoms caused by this organism can be similar to flu and include high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea.”

What should customers do if they have this item in their fridge?

Some people are extremely vulnerable to Listeria infections, including those over 65 years of age, pregnant women and their unborn babies as well as babies less than one month old.

People with weakened immune systems are also more at risk of the infection.

The FSA added: “Symptoms caused by this organism can be similar to flu and include high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea.”

What should customers do if they have this item in their fridge?

“However, fish sauce is not labelled as an ingredient on tesco.com.

“As a result, this product is temporarily unavailable.

“All products purchased in-store have the correct labelling, so this issue only affects tesco.com.”

Tesco are working with their supplier to understand which batch was last affected and once this is established, the product will be available to purchase online again.

What should customers do if they have this product?

The supermarket advises those who don’t eat fish to check the ingredients listed on the packaging. 

“These are correct and will list fish sauce, if it is present,” Tesco said.

Food recalls from other retailers are also in place.

Sainsbury’s is recalling its Plant Pioneers 6 Caramelised Onion Shroomdogs because they may contain pieces of metal.

The presence of metal makes this product unsafe to eat and while the use by date affected is between January 6 and January 7, customers should check if they have this product in their freezer.

No other products from the brand are affected.

 

 

#552

i newspaper, February 22, 2021

One surefire way of ensuring that 99.9 per cent of readers ignore a story is to put the name of a small Essex town into the headline. What possible interest could it be to anyone who does not live in Brentwood? You just do not do it. You might get away with London, Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham but that is about it, and then only if it is really necessary.

This is one of the first things I was taught as a trainee sub-editor. It is not some idiosyncrasy but obvious common sense. Is there any training at all now, or can anyone call him or herself a sub-editor and take money under false pretences?

 

#551

The Times, December 19, 2020

Fictional means that it appears in a work of fiction, eg ‘the fictional Sherlock Holmes’.  The word wanted here is ‘fictitious’ which means made up, eg ‘he gave the ticket inspector a fictitious address’.

#550

Times, November 27, 2020

Times, November 27, 2020

What an embarrassment, as usual attributed to an ‘editing error’. Unless newspaper production has changed out of recognition in the six or seven years since I was employed, the heading would have been written by a sub-editor, revised (therefore accepted) by a senior sub, approved by a sub who supervises the production of the page, the editor of the gardening section, and the editor of the Weekend section, any of whom could have introduced the error and must surely bear responsibility for the result (cue frantic buck-passing). That means that up to five national newspaper journalists, supposedly the creme de la creme, were unaware of this schoolboy error. I am guessing that the average age of these employees is about 23 but I bet they all have first-class degrees from Oxbridge.

 

#549

i newspaper, November 19, 2020

(51 words) Here’s a guessing game. You are the sub handling this story and you need a headline. Given that the purpose of a headline is to attract readers to the story, what would be the most attention-grabbing line you could think of? The chilli sauce? The age of the victim?

This is what the sub came up with:

I laughed aloud when I saw it. There is even room on the top line for chilli.

That’s just the start. Court reports should state the name of the court, the charge and the plea. It is usual to give an indication of where the defendant is from.

This is how I would have done it:

Robber jailed for chilli
attack on woman, 90

A serial robber who broke into a 90-year-old Birmingham woman’s house and sprayed her face with hot chilli sauce has been jailed for nine years at the city’s Crown Court. Mohammed Nawaz, 52, of no fixed address, admitted attempted robbery and administering a noxious substance. He has 36 previous convictions. (50 words)

#548

Times, November 7, 2020

Another example of ignorance of the natural world which is endemic among young subs (they seem to think it is a demerit to know anything): a rodent is a class of mammal which encompasses the capybara at 4ft 6in long and the pygmy jerboa at less than 2in long. This is as stupid as saying ‘a fish-sized’ or ‘a reptile-sized’ animal.