Errors and Omissions: Can you have too much ubiquity? Oh yes, you can

Eagle-eyed pedantry from the Independent on Sunday's chief political commentator

Share

Our profile of Johnnie Boden last Saturday was introduced thus: “The clothes he sells are the epitome of middle-class conformity. But have they become too ubiquitous?” As Alan Knight pointed out, something is either ubiquitous – everywhere – or it is not. There are no degrees of ubiquity, just as something is either unique – singular – or it is not. “Too ubiquitous” is like “very unique”.

Actually, nothing about this introduction makes much sense. Is it the middle classness or the conformity of which Mr Boden’s clothes are the perfect example? I don’t know, but if I were Guy Keleny, I would suspect a little of that last acceptable prejudice – against the middle class.

* Many pedantries can be filed under “It doesn’t matter but try to avoid this because there is no point in irritating the fuddy-duddies who care about it”, and the use of “hopefully”, which really is too ubiquitous, is one. Our Diary reported on Tuesday that Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, had offered British support to Indonesians after the typhoon hit the Philippines. “Hopefully, her staff have a better grasp of geography than their boss,” we said. Her staff may or may not have been hopeful. What our diarist could have said is “I hope that”.

* In reporting on Monday the case of the Saudi Arabian boy who was spared execution for shooting dead an elderly relative after mistaking her for a monkey, we said: “Saudi Arabia has a criminal justice system based on Sharia law.” Sharia means “law” or “moral code” in Arabic.

* Most pedants take a dim view of the word “famously”. If something is really famous, they say, the adverb is redundant, and, if it is not famous enough, sticking the word in won’t make it so. But I came across this in our report on Tuesday of the restrictions on abortions in Texas: “An earlier attempt in June was famously blocked by an 11th-hour filibuster by a Democrat state senator, Wendy Davis.” Had we deleted “famously”, the sentence would have dribbled past me, adding nothing. Instead, the word said, “You remember, don’t you?” And I did. She was the one who wore pink trainers to stand for 11 hours (not at the 11th hour) delivering her speech to block the law. Which just goes to show you should never be absolutist about language rules.

On Wednesday, we wrote about the Collider exhibition at the Science Museum, saying it “gives a decent impression of what it’s like to get up close and personal with the Large Hadron Collider”. Google tells me that Up Close and Personal was a 1996 film. It also tells me that there was a 2002 film starring Jennifer Lopez called Enough.

An editorial on Monday asked if the Iranian talks had reached a “stalemate” and rightly concluded they had not, but for the wrong reason. A stalemate in chess is a draw, often as the result of a mistake by the player who should have won. We meant to ask if the talks were deadlocked.

In our sports pages yesterday, we described the “emergence” of Cory Allen, playing rugby for Wales for the first time today against Argentina, as “meteoric”. Meteors fall.

Guy Keleny is away

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Ashdown Group: PHP Web Developer / Website Coordinator (PHP, JavaScript)

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: PHP Web...

Recruitment Genius: Estates Projects & Resources Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in London, Manchester, Br...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: moderate, iconic royals are a shoe-in for a pedantic kicking

Guy Keleny
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: Cameron is running scared from the “empty chair”

Oliver Wright
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us