Errors and Omissions: You might have to wait some time if you dial 911 in an emergency

Our gloriously attentive pedant reviews the slips in this week's Independent

Share

One of the men shot by the man in New York who lured firefighters to his house was a “19‑year-old 911 dispatcher”, according to our report on Wednesday. This was obviously taken from a US news service, and should have been rewritten for the British reader, for whom the emergency number is 999. As Gyles Cooper says, drawing my attention to it, “I do not believe that in New York they send Porsches to fires.”

Sat down

I enjoyed our interview on Monday with Jim Al-Khalili, the theoretical physicist and new head of the British Humanist Association who seems to be a likeable version of Richard Dawkins, but it started badly: “‘I suspect we’re not the only family in the country that likes to have a friendly row on Christmas Day,’ admits Jim Al-Khalili, sat in his office in the physics department at the University of Surrey.” Guy Keleny has railed against the use of “sat” for “sitting” before, but it should be railed against again.

Not yet pensioned off

Pensions are dull enough without the clichés. On Wednesday, a report of a new analysis was headlined with a time bomb and included two references to black holes in the copy, the second of them in quotation marks, as if we belatedly realised that our mixed and hackneyed metaphors were working too hard.

Pedant bingo

We scored a full set of jargon, cliché and mixed metaphor in one report on the sales. “Footfall was up”; “traffic chaos” was contributed to and “fears of consumers tightening their belts in the face of tough economic conditions were quickly shelved”. But Boxing Day comes only once a year, so we shall overlook it this time.

Up the cliff

Our report on Thursday on the “fiscal cliff” negotiations that prompted Barack Obama to return early from holiday mentioned the “upcoming cuts to government spending”. It is not an excuse that we were reporting US matters. Bernard Kilgore, editor of the proudly American Wall Street Journal until 1967, once sent a memo to his staff on the lower floor warning: “The next time I see ‘upcoming’ in the newspaper I will be downcoming and someone will be outgoing.”

Epilogue

We did it twice last week: used “epicentre” as a fancy way of saying “centre”. The headline on an obituary of Steve Paul on Wednesday described him as “owner of The Scene, the club which became the epicentre of hip 1960s New York”. And in a review of the business year on Thursday, we described the US housing market as “the epicentre of the financial crash that tipped the US into recession”. The epicentre is the point on the Earth’s surface vertically above the focus of an earthquake, not another way of saying “the heart of”.

Guy Keleny is away

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas