Errors & Omissions: The stars of today would make Cary and Marlene turn in their graves


To take pleasure in watching people making fools of themselves is a form of cruelty akin to those 18th-century outings to Bedlam to laugh at the lunatics.

So I never watch Big Brother, and perhaps I am in no position to judge, but surely there is something wrong with a picture caption, published on Wednesday, which said: "Big Brother star Darryn Lyons has undergone surgery to get a washboard stomach."

A star is a performer whose name appears on the posters above, not below, the title of the play or film. The name is at the top because the management thinks that the performer will bring people in to the theatre regardless of what the show may be.

I suppose in a grisly sense that is true of the people who appear on "reality" TV: since there is no show, the performers are the only attraction. So you could say they are all stars. But remember that Mr Lyons' fame rests in no small measure on the cosmetic surgery that makes the fat on his stomach resemble the "six pack" of a muscled torso. Should he really be accorded an honour once given to the likes of Cary Grant and Marlene Dietrich?

Provincial: On Thursday we ran a feature article about Welsh food. The headline: "Get to know the cuisine next door." Next door to where? England, obviously. So the reader is in England, presumably. What readers in Wales made of that, I don't know. I suppose if you live more than 100 miles from London, you must get wearily used to the national media's unthinking assumption that the only real world is the one seen from within the M25.

Bad humour: This is from a comment piece published last Saturday: "Starkey was identifying the same phenomenon [white youngsters aping 'black' speech and manners] but without Ali G's flair, good humouredness and even affection for the patois." Start with a perfectly good noun, say "humour". It has an associated adjective, "humoured". That's all you need, isn't it? Apparently not. No one can resist the urge to create new abstract nouns by tacking "-ness" on to the ends of adjectives. So we get "good humouredness". How does that differ from "good humour"? Search me.

And here we go again. This is from a comment piece on Tuesday: "Alan Davidson ... had been the most lethal swing bowler of the era and a fielder of such prehensile predatoriness that he was known to one and all as 'The Claw'." You cannot object to "predatoriness" as being redundant: it is not the same thing as "predation", but it is still an ugly coinage. As so often in English, things can be improved by getting rid of an abstract noun: "... and as a fielder he was such a prehensile predator that ...".

Who they? On Tuesday a news report said: "The coalition, including Britain, France and Italy, has also funded hi-tech equipment used by rebel fighters to communicate their position to Nato commanders as they plot the air strikes that have helped to tilt the balance against Colonel Gaddafi's demoralised military forces." So, "their position" refers to the rebel fighters, but six words later "they" are the Nato commanders. It is not difficult to work out who is who, but the reader has to pause to sort it out. Saving the effort is easy – just write: "... Nato commanders who plot ...".

Verbiage: From a news story on Monday: "The latest microfossils have been subjected to an exhaustive series of tests which have confirmed that they were once living cells." There are worse things in the world than words that carry no meaning, but why not get rid of them anyway? "A series of" is almost always redundant.

Cliché of the week: "Blood pressure testers not fit for purpose," said a news headline on Wednesday. "Not fit for purpose" has crept up on us in recent years, until we weary of the sight of it. Self-consciously "tough" ministers in the last government loved it for its air of brisk managerial ruthlessness. I declare it no longer fit for purpose.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing