Errors and omissions: some are more prone to silly mistakes than others

Butlers, caravans and scientists have all been victim to slips of the pen this week

Photograph error

Because of a mistake by a supplier we ran a photograph of a wedding rather than a funeral in our feature on alternative funerals on Tuesday. We are happy to acknowledge the error.

Rachid Ghannouchi

In an article on 28 August we published a suggestion that the party Mr Rachid Ghannouchi leads, An Nahda, which is the leading party in the Tunisian government, had been offered a large sum by the Emir of Qatar before the Tunisian elections. We wish to make it clear that Mr Ghannouchi and his party have not accepted any donation from a foreign state in breach of Tunisian party funding laws. We apologise to Mr Ghannouchi.

Andy Kershaw

Following our interview with Andy Kershaw last week we wish to make clear that a 2008 court order prevented him only from contacting his ex-partner. He was not restricted in his contact with his children.

Chris Grayling MP

A column in last week's IoS stated that Chris Grayling MP had "illegally" claimed £10,000 in parliamentary expenses. We are happy to make clear that Mr Grayling was not involved in any illegality.

Chris Grayling MP

A column in last week’s Independent on Sunday stated that Chris Grayling MP had 'illegally' claimed £10,000 in parliamentary expenses. We are happy to make clear that Mr Grayling was not involved in any such illegality.

Guy Keleny's Errors & Omissions column has been one of the best things in The Independent for more than a decade

Errors and Omissions - A comedy of errors

Eleven years ago, Guy Keleny began the column that would become Errors and Omissions. Now, 600 editions down the line, John Rentoul presents a selection of his finest pedantry.

Errors & Omissions: Those sparks get everywhere – even under the paws of a lion

A strange mythological scene arose before the mind's eye upon reading the start of a headline on Monday: "Report of lion on loose sparks …" What could this lion on loose sparks be? A glorious, terrible apocalyptic beast, evidently, with flame and sparks flashing from under its feet. Then I read the rest of the headline "… sparks armed police hunt". The vision faded. It was just a noun-verb ambiguity brought on by the overused headline word "sparks". In Headlineland nothing is ever provoked, occasioned or simply caused, but always "sparked".

Errors & Omissions: An unintentional detour into the land of Camelot

Reverse order: A news story published on Monday began thus: "The public's lingering appetite for all things Olympic…" Where does this tiresome tic come from? I can only guess that perhaps it refers to the old hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful".

Errors & omissions: Anything goes for theatre managers, but not headline writers

On a December evening in, I think, 1973, the junior reporter and occasional theatre critic in the Sunderland branch office of The Northern Echo sat down to compose his opinion of the local civic theatre's latest show.

Melvyn Bragg & The South Bank Show

On 20 May 2012 we published an interview with Melvyn Bragg ("Melvyn Bragg: Good to be back?") to mark the return of The South Bank Show on Sky Arts.

Errors & Omissions: An odyssey won't take you to the Holy Grail

Legends cluster around the name of Katherine Grainger, it seems. Last Saturday we reported on the British rower: "Ever since she secured her first silver in the double sculls at the Sydney Games in 2000, the 36-year-old rower has been painfully honest about her quest for what she called the Holy Grail – Olympic gold. That odyssey came to a euphoric close yesterday on Dorney Lake when she and her partner Anna Watkins powered to first place in the double sculls."

Errors & Omissions: What's in a name? Unintentional sexism, for a start

Olympic successes have made this a big week for women's sport. Cyclist Lizzie Armitstead won Britain's first medal, swimmer Rebecca Adlington its second, and rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover the country's first gold of the Olympic Games. But these triumphs have led to a debate about sexism in sport, and I wondered if, in a small way, a headline we carried in Monday's newspaper underlined the problem.

Errors and omissions: Are you better at mathematics than Jeremy Clarkson?

Extra care is required when one of our writers makes fun of someone for getting things wrong. On Monday, we mocked Jeremy Clarkson's grasp of averages. "The average adult sends 200 texts a month," the sage of The Sun had written. "Plainly, they never spoke to my eldest daughter about this." Our columnist explained: "If your eldest daughter sends 1,900 texts per month while nine non-relatives each send just 100, the average is not 1,900 but 200." Except that it is not. As Laura Newton, a reader, pointed out, if they "each" send 100 that makes 900, plus 1,900, which is 2,800. So the average is 280. The point is awarded to Clarkson.

Errors & Omissions: Who, whom, that, which – they're not interchangeable

Who and its related words often snag writers. In a feature about the housing for Olympic athletes, we wrote on Wednesday: "In all, 203 countries have teams staying in the village, many of whom's animosity towards one another extends far beyond the synchronised swimming pool." What a mess. That "whom's" should be "whose". Like him and her, which become his and hers, the possessive form of these pronouns loses its apostrophe and the word changes form. Whatever the word should be, it had also become separated from the "countries" to which it refers, as the teams themselves are presumably not all hostile to each other outside the sporting arena. (The "synchronised" was an attempted comic effect too far, as synchronised swimming takes place in the same Aquatics Centre as other pool-based so-called sports.) Finally, and not surprisingly in such a sentence, we lost track of "many countries" being plural, perhaps partly because of the use of "one another". The sentence could have read: "In all, 203 countries, many of whose animosities towards each other extend far beyond sporting competition, have teams staying in the village."

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