Plain Language Commission . Clear English Standard


  1. Writing Leeds to confusion
  2. Fall of Troy
  3. Plain language and the courts
  4. Pikestaff 75 – read it now
  5. Garner’s Modern English Usage ‘a huge achievement’
  6. Jottings
  7. Jargon for grown-ups
  8. English to be Latin of EU?
  9. Large amount of amounts
  10. ‘The reason is because’
  11. Clichés – ‘wash down’, again
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News & views

Subeditors a dying breed, says new website

Tautology 2: Ann Treneman’s review of the musical Floyd Collins (Times, 30 Sept 2017) shows signs of the kind of hasty copy filing that subs rectify: ‘There is a fantastic pacy number performed by the journalists sent to Kentucky to cover the sensational story. In terms of the cast, Rebecca Trehearn, as Nellie, her voice piercingly clear, is exceptionally good in terms of singing.’ The double ‘in terms of’ is truly woeful in a truly woeful sentence.

Tautology 3: ‘The only reason why [Major] Booth’s body was identified nine months after his death was because of his engraved MCC cigarette case from England’s tour to South Africa in 1913-14 that was found among his remains.’ In this sentence, ‘reason’ and ‘because’ are doing each other’s job.

Wrong idiom: ‘For Tara [Palmer-Tomkinson] knew she was desperately ill. While the pituitary tumour, as she was at odds to make clear in our interview, “seemed to have gone away”, a rare auto immune condition ravaged her body.’ (Daily Mail, 9 Feb 2017) For ‘at odds’, which means ‘in opposition to’ or ‘in dispute with’, read ‘at pains’, ie ‘eager’.

Refute and deny: ‘Afghan officials accuse her [Captain Niloofar Rahmani) of lying. They have refuted claims that her life is at risk and demanded that the US reject the asylum application.’ (Times, 27 Dec 2016) To refute means to disprove, so here it’s likely that ‘deny’ was meant, since the report gave no evidence for what the officials said.

Oh Laud: In his Times rugby column on 3 Feb 2017, Stuart Barnes writes: ‘In France, more than any other country, the No 9 tends to laud it over the No 10.’ For ‘laud’, which means ‘praise’, read ‘lord’ which means ‘act in a superior way’.

Take off and landing: You’d hope an alert sub would notice the incongruity in this sentence about Mary Tyler Moore, comedy actress, in the Daily Mail on 26 Jan 2017: ‘In 1961, Moore’s career began to take off as she landed the role of Laura Petrie, the suburban New York wife.’

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