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

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home