Errors and Omissions: ‘Dux’ on Di Canio's bicep? There's a problem in that construction

The slips from this week's Independent are reviewed by our peerless Letters editor

Related Topics

The grammatical conventions governing headlines are weird and complex, and sometimes they go wrong. This was published on a news page on Wednesday: “I thought I’d get fired: the other man who shot James Meredith.” I won’t bother to explain what this headline is supposed to mean – a headline that needs to be explained should be binned and replaced by something the poor reader can understand straight away. The interesting thing is that it contravenes the punctuation convention for headlines of this sort.

It works like this: either Cameron: I resign or I resign – Cameron. If the person’s name comes first, use a colon; if the sentiment attributed to them comes first, use a dash. In the case above, the colon should be a dash. Not that it would improve things much. This kind of headline needs to be stark and simple, and the person quoted needs to be well known to the reader. “The other man who shot James Meredith” just doesn’t qualify.

Cliché of the week

The place where you can always rely on finding the dreaded “When it comes to…” is the fashion and style pages. I don’t know why, but that is an observed fact.

On Monday, a style page about the pets of big figures in the fashion world did it twice: “When it comes to man’s best friend, Lagerfeld has decided that he prefers something that purrs”; and “When it comes to a fashion pedigree, you don’t get much better than the Labradors adored by Stefano Gabbana.”

So, when does it come to a fashion pedigree? And what is the “it” that comes? The questions are, of course, absurd. “When it comes to…” is just a meaningless extrusion of words.

What was that?

A news-in-brief item on Wednesday dealt with a court case about the poisoning of a drink at a police station: “The officer that subsequently drank it needed treatment in hospital.”

I know that Tennyson writes in “Ulysses” about a task “not unbecoming men that strove with gods”, but by and large the relative pronoun “that” should relate to a thing. A person should be “who”.

Led astray

As usual, we have been defeated by Latin. On Monday, we covered the story of Paolo Di Canio, the new Sunderland football manager, whose admiration for Mussolini has scandalised the good folk of Wearside. We reported: “He has a tattoo that says ‘Dux’ on his bicep, which is a Latinised spelling of ‘Duce’.”

No, it is the other way round. “Dux” is the Latin word for “leader”. Under the late Roman empire, it was a military rank. From it are derived the Italian “duce”, the French “duc” and the English “duke” – and, for all I know, similar words in half a dozen other modern European languages.

And by the way, there is no such word as “bicep”. The word is “biceps” – a singular, despite the letter S at the end. The same goes for “forceps”.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living