Errors & Omissions: A headline that should come with a health warning


Out of his mind: We noted a tension in American ideas about money in a leading article on Monday.

"The latest victim of this schizophrenic attitude is the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney," we said, after he was rounded on – in a country that celebrates wealth – for offering a $10,000 bet to a rival in a debate. We should be more careful in using words from mental health. Schizophrenia does not mean a "split personality". Schizo- comes from the Greek for split, but it refers to the separation between the mind and reality, not that between multiple personalities. Even if it were the right word to use, however, it would be in dubious taste.

Who is full of what? I hope to turn the tide against the misuse of "hopefully", although I admit that it does not usually matter much. This, by Mark Steel on Wednesday, though, tripped me up: "So, just like in 1940, we stand alone, and hopefully at every bus stop, you'll hear the plucky British saying: 'Blooming Krauts, who do they think they are telling us our bankers aren't allowed to rob us blind?'" For a moment, I thought he meant that the British would stand hopefully at bus stops, possibly waiting for a No 27. The placing of the commas does not help, but he means "I hope that". Perhaps it is a commendable reluctance to use the first person pronoun that prompts writers to use hopefully, but it is taking self-effacement too far.

Piano and forte: In our preview of Radiohead's new single, which is an attack on the Daily Mail, we described it as "a piano ballad which builds to a crescendo". A crescendo, as any junior thunker of the plinky-plonk knows, is a musical passage that becomes louder. It is not the bit to which the crescendo builds, which is usually called the climax. I suppose misplaced prudery might explain the frequency of this error.

Off the spiral track: Daniel Howden's brilliant report on Thursday from the conflict in Somalia was let down by two clanging clichés. One was in the headline, "UN-backed invasion of Somalia spirals into chaos". It is not the chaos so much – at least we were not describing lane restrictions on the A38 – it is the spiralling. An invasion going into a spiral? If it were the first time someone had used that metaphor, the failure of the image might be forgiven. Howden was presumably not responsible for the headline, but conjured another implausible picture in his report, which said: "Kenya's first foreign war ... is coming off the rails." I am told that there was a railway in Somalia, built by the Italians in the 1910s. But it was dismantled, by the British, in the 1940s.

In effect: As we approach the end of the year, I will invert this column's purpose to praise John Lichfield, whose report of the conviction of Jacques Chirac was a model of accurate and original writing. Take this early sentence: "Despite 14 years of delays and rearguard actions and despite the best efforts of his former protégé, President Nicolas Sarkozy, Chirac, 79, was convicted by a Paris court of, in effect, embezzling taxpayers' money to fund his rise to the presidency between 1990 and 1995." Long, but clear, and dodging all the familiar traps into which lesser reporters fall. "Protégé" correctly spelt and accented. "In effect" rather than "effectively", which means something different. And no ghastly "from 1990-95". A thing of beauty and a joy for ever.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform