Online Editing, Proofing, Grammar And Going To Hell In A Handbasket – Feel Free To Correct

Spot The Deliberate Mistakes… (Guest piece from ePrint’s newsletter)

I’m a creative writer and a poet, and bad language hurts my inner ear.  The press piece below was forwarded to me by one of you charming Brits and I have to say that by the time I had finished reading it I was almost bent double from the clanging and clashing of those poor words being pile-driven into their ill-fitting phrases.  It was like plastic melting under the strain of a shape sorter in the hands of a hard-hearted toddler whose aim is to win at all costs:

A helicopter hovered over ABC Polo Club last week as part of a RAF training exercise.

Miss X*, who works at the club, said they only got two hours notice that the helicopter would be visiting the ground. She said: “We were delighted to be able to let them do it. Those guys are going out to places like Afghanistan and this is a way for us to support them.”

During the exercise the Puma helicopter, which was flying between two bases, hovered close to the ground. Miss X added: “It was really quite moving having one of those helicopters right in front of you. It’s really quite astonishing. “People from around the undisclosed Lincolnshire village became suddenly aware that there was a Puma helicopter in the area. It made quite a lot of noise, you could hear it from a way away.”

‘A RAF training programme’? Surely they meant to say ‘an’?

‘…places like Afghanistan’? Has the RAF stopped going there then?

‘It was really quite moving’ but ‘it is really quite astonishing’? Even if both of those phrases were uttered, was there room with journalistic licence to make it grammatically correct?

‘…people became suddenly aware’ and ‘…you could hear it from a way away’ don’t exactly trip off the tongue.  Were they sure that Miss X actually said both of those?  As I know the commenter in question (and she really is quite clever with a deftness for the prosaic) I hope not.

Not an exhaustive list but, copy, text, content – whatever you call it, writing matters.

With love from America, even if you can’t spell Aluminum!

Notebook Noise

*no we don’t think they employ porn stars, or people who can’t write – we have replaced the names to protect the innocently misquoted, Ed.

NB – From this guest post I claim in advance any errors or omissions as ironic TCM


2 responses to “Online Editing, Proofing, Grammar And Going To Hell In A Handbasket – Feel Free To Correct

  1. The majority of the piece was, I assume from the punctuation, directly quoted. A reporter can choose to either report verbatim or repackage the speakers words, it remains however, the writers’ choice.
    As for the choice of ‘a’ or ‘an’, there are two schools of thought on this subject: ‘vocalisation of the abbreviation’ and ‘vocalisation of the first word’. The writer chose the latter, which probably indicates that they are not a native British speaker.
    Incidentally allow me to apologise for starting the last but one sentence with a conjunction, but I felt it was appropriate, and as the writer, I felt it was my choice.

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