Errors and Omissions: The latest rail excuse? There's an elephant on the line

Our chief politicical commentator casts his eye over this week's Independent

Share

The planned high-speed rail line, HS2, is a “costly white elephant”, we said in a leading article yesterday. The thing about the story of the white elephant is that it was an impressive gift that cost its recipient too much to keep. But the rail line is different: it would cost us more than it would benefit us, according to the National Audit Office, but it would not be ruinous, and it is not just for show.

One step beyond: “Guilt for this outrage extends way beyond the abusers,” said a headline on our Voices pages on Thursday. “Far beyond” is the conventional usage and it is the same number of characters, so we should prefer that, except when we are deliberately copying the way young people talk.

Tautology watch: A leading article on Thursday expressed alarm at the speed with which al-Qa’ida and other Islamist groups had seized control of northern Mali and “imposed brutally severe sharia law”. It is a small point, but sharia means law.

Free money: We wrote on Thursday about plans for a film about the migration of monarch butterflies and the people they come across. The film-maker has made a five-minute short “to try to crowd-source funds for the project”. I suppose crowd-sourcing funds sounds posher than raising money, but it is a euphemism. Then we said that you can watch the film “for free” at a website address. “Free” will do, and there is no need these days to give full website addresses. In this case, we needed to say only: “Search for The Journey by Ali Alvarez.”

Elusive sense: Our report on Thursday on a breakthrough in human cloning included this: “Although the procedure has been achieved in laboratory animals – such as mice and monkeys – it has until now alluded several attempts on human material.” That looks as if we meant “eluded”, which means escaped or avoided, but the sentence has gone wrong before we get that far. “Procedure” is a dull, imprecise word, warning us to rewrite. “Stem cells have been created in laboratory animals,” we could have said, “but several attempts to do so in human tissue have been unsuccessful until now.”

Sounds like it: Stephen Breuer, who pointed out that error, also noticed that we wrote about “spying in the Caucuses”, which is the plural of caucus rather than the region, the Caucasus; and that we referred to protests in Syria “which declaimed sectarianism”, when we meant decried or denounced.

Extra superfluous: One of our columnists predicted on Tuesday that the Conservative Party would split over Europe. This would end at last “the poisonous, passive-aggressive Euro-marriage that has riven the Tories for decades, while the added bonus might be years of expensive legal squabbling over the rights to the name”. Colourful stuff, but “added bonus” is a tautology.

React Now

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

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week