Errors and Omissions: We've seen more than our fair share of meaningless phrases

Our legendary Letters editor picks out the waffle in the Independent this week

Share

This is from an exhibition review published on Monday, about Mughal Indian art: “The British amassed a host of visual and literary treasures …. The British Library has more than its fair share.”

So, what would have been the British Library’s fair share, and by how much was it exceeded? Nobody even pretends to know. “More than its fair share” is one of those phrases of which people say “Well, it’s only a manner of speaking”. I prefer a manner of speaking that makes sense.

More verbiage on Monday’s front page: “David Cameron’s support of gay marriage could see the Conservatives ripped down the middle.” The gay marriage issue won’t be a spectator lounging on the sidelines, sipping a cool drink as it “sees” the party ripped down the middle. It will be in there doing the ripping.

Muddle-earth: I haven’t seen the Hobbit movie yet, but I feel I know more about it than some who have. On Wednesday, Grace Dent berated the film-makers for not introducing any sword-swinging female heroes. Those of us who have been following the sad obsessive fan sites know that they have: she is an elf warrior called Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, but I don’t expect to see much of her until the action moves to Mirkwood in film two.

Yesterday, Anthony Quinn’s film review found Gollum about the only thing to like in film one and opined: “How much he figures in the second and third instalments will surely have a determining influence on the success of the whole.” Perhaps Quinn knows more than can be gleaned from reading the book, in which Gollum makes just the one appearance.

Homophone horror: This is from a news report published on Wednesday: “A month ago Lieutenant Kutaiba Hassan led his squad of soldiers into an apartment bloc in south Damascus.” That should be “block”.

We have here an example of a word that has arrived from French twice, once in the Middle Ages and again later. The two versions have different meanings and spellings. (A similar example is offered by “roll” and “role”.)

“Block”, meaning a solid mass of stuff (in this case a block of flats), goes way back to Middle English. “Bloc”, meaning a political combination, dates from the early 20th century, according to the Shorter Oxford.

Number crunching: Sorry, but I’m not giving up. I shall continue to repeat that a verb and its subject need to agree as to number.

The latest outrage comes from a picture caption published last Saturday: “Zara’s fast turnaround of trend-following clothes have secured a lucrative mature market.” That should be “has”.

“Turnaround have” is obviously wrong, but an interposed noun different in number – in this case “clothes” – is liable to confuse people who weren’t taught grammar at school.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping child abuse taking place right now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower