Errors and Omissions: from Brussels to Croatia, stand up to the march of geographical correctness

Our legendary pedant brushes aside "authentic" place names, finds a missing Reichstag, and shines light on the existence (or not) of shadow spokesmen

Share
Related Topics

“A girl dressed as a Hindu goddess sits on the banks of the Ganga, one of India’s holiest rivers,” said a picture caption published on Wednesday. The Ganga? You may think you have never heard of it, but it is in fact our old friend the Ganges.

A creeping geographical correctness seems to have accompanied the spread of English as a world language through the internet. The holy river appears to be the latest victim. It is a long time since the notorious battles of the Nineties had Peking, Bombay and Madras binned in favour of supposedly authentic local names, free of any taint of linguistic colonialism. More recently the madness has even reached Europe, with Leghorn and Corunna replaced by Livorno and La Coruña. How long before we are writing, in English, about Bruxelles, Wien and Firenze? Not too sure where to find Suomi, Magyarország and Hrvatska? Get out the atlas; it may not be long before you need to know.

Number crunching

This is from an obituary published on Monday: “He quickly became known not only for his advertising copy but also the quality of the pictures that went with them.” Them? Pictures would certainly be “them”, but here “them” is the copy. So the pronoun ought to be singular – “it”. Once again proximity trumps the logic of grammar.

Where am I?

Picture agencies have always been a mine of misinformation. Anthony Ingleton writes in to draw attention to a picture published in last week’s Radar section. The caption said: “History lessons in a complex city: the Reichstag in Berlin.” The photograph actually depicted the Berliner Dom, a large and impressive Protestant church. But, hey, they’ve both got big domes.

Central European parliament buildings seem to be particularly tricky. The other week we published a photograph of a large building in baroque style, with a caption indicating that it was the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. I did not manage to find out what it was, but it wasn’t the Parliament, which is extravagantly Gothic.

Speak for yourself

 “Mr Bryant, a shadow Home Office spokesman, said...” Thus we reported in a political story published on Tuesday. This is a common confusion.

Chris Bryant MP is a shadow Home Office minister and a Labour spokesman, so he must be a shadow Home Office spokesman. Right? Wrong. Bryant is currently shadow minister for Borders and Immigration. You could describe him either as an Opposition spokesman or a shadow minister. But he is not a shadow spokesman. On the contrary, he is a real, flesh-and-blood spokesman, who can be seen and heard speaking for his party in the House of Commons.

Cliché of the week

“A 21-year-old man was arrested in Manhattan yesterday on suspicion of plotting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve in the city’s bustling financial district,” said a news story on Thursday. Not far from the “bustling financial district”, of course, are to be found the “vibrant inner-city neighbourhoods”, and, a bit farther out, the “leafy suburbs”.

React Now

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

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Mechanical Lead

£65000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Mechanical L...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Richard Dawkins  

Richard Dawkins is wrong to suggest that there can be varying degrees of severity involved in rape

Sian Norris
 

Fist bumps will never replace the handshake - we're just not cool enough

Jessica Brown Jessica Brown
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on