Errors & Omissions

No policies, no forum, and no name we can agree on

Share
Related Topics

Mystery surrounds the so-called think-tank that apparently acted as a conduit for some of Peter Hain's campaign funds. Not only does nobody know what it does in the way of thinking, we apparently do not even know what it is called.

A panel attached to last Saturday's news story referred to "a hitherto unknown think-tank, the Progressive Policies Forum". By Monday, Andreas Whittam Smith's column was talking about the Progressive Policy Forum, but a sub-heading on his piece had it as "the Progressive Party Forum".

Normally one would expect people to get their act together and find out the proper version of the name. However, just as the Holy Roman Empire was said to be neither holy nor Roman nor an empire, so this body seems to be neither progressive nor a forum nor in possession of any policies, so it probably doesn't matter what you call it.

Like for like: Editors spend a fair amount of time changing "like" to "such as". A writer will burble something like, "The studio employed great screen stars like Dietrich and Garbo". That means that the studio employed stars similar to Dietrich and Garbo, but not Dietrich and Garbo themselves. The writer wanted to say that the studio employed Dietrich, Garbo and others like them: so "like" needs to be changed to "such as". It happens a lot.

But the "such as" reflex appears to have betrayed someone who edited Thomas Sutcliffe's TV review on Monday. It dealt with a report from inside San Quentin prison. Of one particularly violent prisoner it said: "David talked to people such as Prince Charles with his hands behind his back, because he'd got so used to them being handcuffed into that position." Originally, Sutcliffe must have written something like this: "David talked to people like Prince Charles – with his hands behind his back, because he'd got so used to them being handcuffed into that position." In other words, he put his hands behind his back like Prince Charles. The robotic amendment of "like" to "such as" paints the absurd picture of the prisoner enjoying regular teatime chats with royalty.

Stop breathing: This is from Pandora on Wednesday, reporting on a promise by Elizabeth Hurley to donate some kneelers to the church where she was married: " 'We have not received any,' says the church treasurer. 'We wait with baited breath.' "

That should be "bated". Here we have two words that sound the same, but have different meanings and spellings, and – this is the killer – one is in common usage, but the other is a fossilised relic, used only in certain conventional phases and easily forgotten. The common word is "bait" – I don't have to explain what it means. The fossil is "bate", which is related to "abate" and means to blunt or lessen in force. That is what is happening to the breath.

Mixed metaphor of the week: "When the celebrated violinist Tasmin Little went busking in London last spring she little thought that it would spark a groundbreaking initiative," said an arts feature on Wednesday.

"Spark" should be banned. It is one of the most drearily familiar journalese words, so it is not surprising that the writer here forgot its origin. The image is of a spark falling on some combustible material and starting a fire or an explosion.

"Groundbreaking" comes from old-fashioned military engineering. The siege of a fortress was a matter of digging trenches. Digging the first trench, the besieging army was said to have "broken ground". Unsurprisingly, the act was performed with a spade: no fire, explosives or sparks involved.

Misfire: There was another mysterious outbreak of fire in James Lawton's football article on Thursday. He wrote of Newcastle: "They fire their wobbly old cupid's arrow at Kevin Keegan." Talk of arrows being "fired" from bows is so common that I hesitate to stigmatise it as wrong, but it is absurd. To "fire", in this sense, means to propel by fiery explosion, as from a gun. Bows do not use explosives, and archers always speak of "shooting" arrows, never "firing" them.

Stuck: "Shocking journey through the cul-de-sac of a marriage", was the headline on a theatre review on Wednesday. The reference to a cul-de-sac comes from the review, but "through" was supplied by the writer of the headline. It reduces the image to nonsense: the whole point of a cul-de-sac is that you cannot go through it.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Rocky Fire in California earlier this month, where 9,000 firefighters tried to contain a blaze that ravaged 60,000 acres  

Climate change: A 'pause' in global warming? Not on this evidence

Steve Connor
The author at the The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival  

I love the Edinburgh Book Festival's audiences, although sometimes they do make me wonder

Howard Jacobson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future