Errors and Omissions: Let’s consign this cliché to a weighty tomb

This week's Independent is put under the microscope by our in-house pedant

Share

I’m not sure if this was a brain scramble or just a typing error, but on Tuesday we said, of Harry Redknapp’s autobiography, “The author of the weighty tomb claims he can hardly write.” What we ended up with was better – almost poetic: a book in which Redknapp’s earthly reputation will be preserved for ever – than the clichéd phrase it replaced. “Weighty tome” being mock-Tudor for “long book”. We could do without it.

“The fact that” ought to be read by any editor as “please rewrite this bit”. On Tuesday we wrote: “This week our thoughts are with X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger as she battles her personal demons: namely, the fact that she appears to be drunk on camera when actually she isn’t.” It would have been more elegant if we had simply struck out “the fact”.

Conditionitis: Journalists in a hurry often suffer from a condition known as needless condition syndrome. The symptom is the unnecessary insertion of the word “condition” in sentences, often about the weather. On Monday we reported on the technique used by albatrosses to remain airborne without expending much energy. “By repeatedly using this method, they can travel thousands of miles depending on the wind conditions.” The word “conditions” could simply have been deleted.

As it could on Tuesday, when we analysed the possible causes of the apparent pause in global warming, which included, we said, “the effect of El Niño and La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean”. Then on Wednesday we reported that the weather in parts of the UK had become colder: “Two inches of snow have already fallen in Scotland, where windy conditions are expected to last until this morning.” Meaning “... where it is expected to be windy until this morning”.

How many deciles? We carried a news story on Thursday which made the important point that the Liberal Democrat policy of raising the point at which people start to pay income tax tends to benefit better-off households. This is because two-earner couples gain twice, unless they are very well-off, earning more than £41,450 a year, which takes them into the 40p tax band. Our explanation of this surprising effect, for a policy promoted as benefiting the low-paid, was rigorously factual: “People in the seventh, eighth and ninth of the 10 deciles on the earnings ladder would see a bigger percentage rise in their income than those lower down the scale.” It is clear enough if you know that a decile is a 10th of a population, ranked in order, and if you know that statisticians call the poorest 10th the “first” decile. But it might have been easier to understand if we had said something like: “The best-off 30 per cent of households below the top 10 per cent would gain most as a share of their income, and more than those lower down the scale.”

Check your echelon: Our review of Pompey by Jonathan Meades on Thursday was favourable. “It is a stunning performance, and places Meades in the upper echelon of 20th-century prose stylists.” But no one knows what an echelon is. It used to mean the ranks of a wedge-shaped military formation with each row longer than the one in front. There would therefore be no “upper” echelon.

Guy Keleny is away

React Now

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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

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...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
King Abdullah made Saudi Arabia prosperous but had absolute disregard for what liberal Westerners would view as basic human rights  

The media cannot ignore tricky questions when someone dies - but it must stick to the facts

Will Gore
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