I will shut up about “amid” in a moment, but this was the opening paragraph of an article last week: “Amid a discussion on the week that has been in Arsenal Football Club, Andrew Allen … stops himself mid-conversation.” That is horrible. “Amid” means “in the middle of”, so that is simply saying “mid-conversation” twice. “In” would have been an acceptable way of starting that sentence, although it might have been better to have put it into English: “In the middle of a discussion on the week that has been in Arsenal Football Club, Andrew Allen … stops himself.”
A settlement visible from space: In an article about a virus that is fatal to dogs, we mentioned “Sandbach, a town in Cheshire”. Ian Watson thought this was unnecessary, because he knows where Sandbach is. Many of our readers do not, however, so we should always relate less well-known places to better-known ones. What I thought odd about it, though, was “a town” – that sounded as if we were visitors from outer space. “Sandbach, in Cheshire”, or just “Sandbach, Cheshire”, is all we need.
An unusualcy: In an opinion article about Joe Biden’s address to Congress, we said it was more than “just a return to normalcy”. It was about US politics, so an Americanism wasn’t out of place, but the usual British English is “normality”. You also hear “competency” quite a lot these days, although I haven’t seen it in our pages recently, when “competence” will do.
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