Media howlers

An article about visitors’ books in the Sunday Times Style magazine supplement of 17 February refers to "Tresco, the privately owned Channel Island", which won’t please any readers of the Sunday Times in the Scillies. The Guardian the other day referred to something "praying on my mind", a confusing combination of images. And I have finally given up e-mailing the long-suffering Guardian Readers’ Editor with examples from his newspaper of "whom" where "who" is required (as in "the person whom we had always thought must be responsible for the crime"). It’s sad to think that so few English-speaking people now alive know the difference between the subject and the object of a verb, still less that between a nominative and an accusative, or even what a verb is. It’s probably the mark of a senile fuddy-duddy to suspect that those who can’t express themselves with reasonable accuracy in their own native language are unlikely to be able to think accurately or logically, either. Not so many years ago, accuracy in expression and above all accuracy in the statement of facts were regarded as prime requirements for civil servants, diplomats and even journalists. Now they seem to have become optional extras, and those who value them are pedants.

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