Superfluous words

18 Apr

You may have guessed that I’m a newspaper addict, but so many people subscribe to the “why use one word when you can use three (or more)” syndrome, that it’s not really good for my blood pressure.

Today, for example, it was reported that Judge Anthony Pitts told the Southwark Crown Court “…the figure may be in excess of £200m” – why not “the figure may exceed £200m”? And in a piece about an Alfred Hitchock season “…one of the highlights…will be to fully restore nine of the director’s silent films”. Who needs “fully”? Apart from splitting the infinitive (and, yes, I am one of those dinosaurs who hates split infinitives), they’re either going to be restored, or they’re not.

The most frequent culprit is, of course, “of”: “all of” instead of “all”; and “inside of” and “outside of” instead of “inside” and “outside”.

Back in the day, as they say, with the exception of direct quotes, newspaper subs corrected grammar, cut copy to fit without losing important parts of the story, and wrote headlines, captions and stand firsts (introductions) that accurately represented what was in the piece – which isn’t always the case now.

I realise that cost precludes the use of subs now, but could we not teach people to write better English in the first place? Minister for Education please note.

Today’s picture

The weather is vile today (I think we had summer in March; in a few years we’ll be having it in December), so here’s some sunshine: the shell seller’s shelter on the beach at Trinidad del Mar, Cuba.Image

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