A new selection of howlers
Some more evidence of national decline, including valued contributions by (among others) Peter Harvey and Louise Barder:
"Many middle-class families are struck by financial catastrophy, be it a collapsed pension, a sick relative or a daughter with a vocation for the stage." [Guardian, 9 Feb 07]
“Maybe she was naive to expect the truth. Four years after being killed by an American pilot, Mandy Hull has still to discover why her son was shot by US forces one morning in Iraq.”
[Observer, 4 Feb 2007 : (“Why won’t the US tell us how Matty died?” by Mark Townsend)]
Mr Blair told his audience: "In politics at the top you get used to the periodic storms and I don't for a moment, incidentally, underestimate the volume of this one and whilst you and perhaps more accurately me are in the eye of it.
"It can be hard to stay calm as it rages, but however buffeted, it should not change our course or our confidence." [BBC report, 3 Feb 2007]
See Peter Harvey's comment on this one (spotted by him) here.
"The US media is gripped by election fever (Heading)
The mainstream media dances dutifully… "
[Gary Younge, Guardian 5.ii.07]
("Media… is the plural of medium but is sometimes used in the singular when it refers to the communication media: press, radio, TV; this usage is not generally accepted." Peter Harvey, A Guide to English Language Usage for non-native speakers. "When in doubt, use the plural." Robert Burchfield, Fowler, third ed.)
"Perhaps, though, Mr Haw is a symbol of how the country feels: wanting to give a great roar of inchoate rage in the direction of all politicians."
[Simon Hoggart, Guardian, 10 Feb 07]
(OED: 'Inchoate: Just begun, incipient; in an initial or early stage; hence elementary, imperfect, undeveloped, immature. [Often regarded as unetymologically developed through confusion with CHAOTIC a.]' With great respect to the OED, however, I suspect (with Robert Burchfield's third edition of Fowler's MEU) that the confusion is more often with 'incoherent' — right, Mr Hoggart? What would your ("Uses of Literacy") father have said, eh?
"A brave teenager played for his junior football team just minutes after learning his father had died and won the man-of-the match award."
"Eight people who fraudulently used disabled parking badges have been shamed after being hauled before court following an undercover string operation."
[Quoted as howlers by Riazat Butt in the Northerner, Guardian Unlimited's weekly digest of the best of the northern press, 30 March 06]
There are plenty of much worse perversions of our thick-skinned language in other branches of the print media besides the Guardian and the Observer: it's just that we expect better of them. Well, I do, anyway.