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

Share
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

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

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
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