Stones, pounds, feet, seven-year-olds and illiteracy

31 views
Skip to first unread message

Vinny Burgoo

unread,
Jan 2, 2011, 7:09:03 PM1/2/11
to
Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:

'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.

'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
the height of a seven-year-old child.'

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8235940/Giant-fox-caught-in-M
aidstone.html>

--
VB

Garrett Wollman

unread,
Jan 2, 2011, 7:19:21 PM1/2/11
to
In article <AmYzmPBf...@shropshire.plus.com>,

Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
>'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
>captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
>because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
>'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
>the height of a seven-year-old child.'

Did the Torygraph's subeditors imbibe rather too much for New Year's?

Clearly, the male fox must have weighed 26.5 lb, and someone (probably
an editor) clumsily put the approximation in stone ahead, rather than
behind as would be proper, of the more exact measurement.

I have known many seven-year-olds in my lifetime (although none
currently), and I honestly couldn't say how high and of them were. Or
even how tall they were, for that matter. (AmE usage would be "four
feet long", in any case, but I understand BrE allows "four foot"
here.)

Oh, and the first sentence you quote has either two commas too many or
one too few. (Is that a giant fox or a Giant Fox? Would it run away
from or towards a Giant Eagle?)

-GAWollman

--
Garrett A. Wollman | What intellectual phenomenon can be older, or more oft
wol...@bimajority.org| repeated, than the story of a large research program
Opinions not shared by| that impaled itself upon a false central assumption
my employers. | accepted by all practitioners? - S.J. Gould, 1993

Jerry Friedman

unread,
Jan 2, 2011, 7:41:45 PM1/2/11
to
On Jan 2, 5:19 pm, woll...@bimajority.org (Garrett Wollman) wrote:
> In article <AmYzmPBfORINF...@shropshire.plus.com>,

> Vinny Burgoo  <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>
> >Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
> >'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
> >captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
> >because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
> >'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
> >the height of a seven-year-old child.'

[snip justified criticism]

> Oh, and the first sentence you quote has either two commas too many or
> one too few.

...

Or it's an example of Creeping Nonrestrictive That, which seems to be
natural for some Kids These Days.

--
Jerry Friedman

Peter Duncanson (BrE)

unread,
Jan 2, 2011, 7:53:00 PM1/2/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:09:03 +0000, Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk>
wrote:

>Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
>'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
>captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
>because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.

The foxes are eating bins? That's scary. Have they mutated?


>
>'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb

"nearly two stone or 26.5lb" would be OK.

> and was four foot long, about
>the height of a seven-year-old child.'
>

The fox was four foot long and as tall as a seven-year-old child? Even
more scary.

Was this fox created in a laboratory?

Perhaps it is part of a plan to re-legalise fox hunting but with the
foxes given a more equal chance. Hunting would be much more exciting if
the hounds, horses, huntsmen, huntswomen and hunt followers were at risk
of being killed and eaten by foxes.

><http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8235940/Giant-fox-caught-in-M
>aidstone.html>

--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)

musika

unread,
Jan 2, 2011, 8:33:44 PM1/2/11
to
In news:6992fe3f-1d21-4698...@j29g2000yqm.googlegroups.com,
Jerry Friedman <jerry_f...@yahoo.com> typed:

Or it's short for i.e.

--
Ray
UK

Peter Moylan

unread,
Jan 2, 2011, 8:37:29 PM1/2/11
to

Nonrestrictive "that" has long been acceptable in BrE. That doesn't
excuse the sentence, though.

--
Peter Moylan, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. http://www.pmoylan.org
For an e-mail address, see my web page.

Steve Hayes

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 12:22:10 AM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:19:21 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
Wollman) wrote:

>Did the Torygraph's subeditors imbibe rather too much for New Year's?

New Year's WHAT?

eve?
day?
resolutions?

Or did they have too many New Year's drink's?

I'ver seen this dangling New Year's quite a lot recently -- is it the spread
of the greengrocers apostroph'e?


--
Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/stevesig.htm
Blog: http://methodius.blogspot.com
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk

annily

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 12:45:57 AM1/3/11
to
On 2011-01-03 15:52, Steve Hayes wrote:
> On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:19:21 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
> Wollman) wrote:
>
>> Did the Torygraph's subeditors imbibe rather too much for New Year's?
>
> New Year's WHAT?
>
> eve?
> day?
> resolutions?
>
> Or did they have too many New Year's drink's?
>
> I'ver seen this dangling New Year's quite a lot recently -- is it the spread
> of the greengrocers apostroph'e?
>
>
>
>
It seems to be common usage in the US (if we can believe their TV shows
and movies).

--
Long-time resident of Adelaide, South Australia,
which probably influences my opinions.

Garrett Wollman

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 1:21:50 AM1/3/11
to
In article <vum2i69o64uecj5b0...@4ax.com>,

Steve Hayes <haye...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:19:21 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
>Wollman) wrote:
>
>>Did the Torygraph's subeditors imbibe rather too much for New Year's?
>
>New Year's WHAT?

New Year's. The holiday. No complement is required, any more than if
I said I was going to buy some jeans at Kohl's.

Persons of a certain age and geographical affiliation will remember
when a number of national retailers changed their branding in Quebec
to eliminate the illegal English apostrophes in their trade names.
(Apparently "Canadian Tire", on the other hand, counts as an Honorary
French Word, like "stop", as far as the Language Police were
concerned.)

mb

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 2:16:14 AM1/3/11
to
On Jan 2, 5:33 pm, "musika" <mUs...@SPAMNOTexcite.com> wrote:

> >>> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen,

...


> Or it's short for i.e.

Remarkable. Someone can read.

Eric Walker

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 2:54:39 AM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 03 Jan 2011 00:09:03 +0000, Vinny Burgoo wrote:

> Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
> captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
> because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
> 'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
> the height of a seven-year-old child.'

I am unacquainted with the literary standards of the various U.K.
newspapers, but that such a thing should see print in any medium is sad.
One would think a seventh-grader would be seriously marked down for any
homework in which such an abomination appeared.

Incidentally, would some Rightpondians update me on how common the use of
"stone" is today in everyday speech or writing? I get the vague
impression that it is quaint verging on archaic, but I'm here and you're
there.


--
Cordially,
Eric Walker

Mike Page

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 4:01:41 AM1/3/11
to
In every day speech, stones and pounds are still the standard measures
of the weight of human beings in UK. Medicos are metricated. Stones are
also used to describe the weight of some livestock, in the kinds of
circles where they need to do such a thing. 'Four foot long' is
acceptable informal usage. Two stone, of course, equals 28 lb. It's that
inaccuracy that jars most, for me.

We've done this before, over the years. Mr Lyle wrote a good post about
this a while back, but I can't turn it up.
--
MP

John Dunlop

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:35:58 AM1/3/11
to
mb:

> [musika:]


>
>>>>> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen,
> ...
>> Or it's short for i.e.
>
> Remarkable. Someone can read.

For that reading, I would have put a comma after "that is" and probably
stronger punctuation around the explanation:

A giant fox - that is, twice the size of a normal specimen - ...

But why not:

A giant fox, twice the size of a normal specimen, ...

--
John

Django Cat

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:50:45 AM1/3/11
to
Vinny Burgoo wrote:

> Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
> captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
> because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
> 'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long,
> about the height of a seven-year-old child.'
>

Hmm, this from the paper that is said to have reported Elizabeth
Taylor's arrival in the UK with the deathless, though possibly
apocryphal, "Miss Taylor said that being in London made her feel like a
million dollars (?486,594 11s 5d)."

DC
--

J. J. Lodder

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 7:04:28 AM1/3/11
to
Peter Duncanson (BrE) <ma...@peterduncanson.net> wrote:

> On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:09:03 +0000, Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk>
> wrote:
>
> >Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
> >
> >'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
> >captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
> >because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
> The foxes are eating bins? That's scary. Have they mutated?
> >
> >'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb
>
> "nearly two stone or 26.5lb" would be OK.
>
> > and was four foot long, about
> >the height of a seven-year-old child.'
> >
> The fox was four foot long and as tall as a seven-year-old child? Even
> more scary.
>
> Was this fox created in a laboratory?

Looking up variation in fox sizes,
<http://www.terrierman.com/AnnZoolFenn95.pdf>
this specimen is indeed far above average, (about 7 kg)
but not extraordinarily so.

> Perhaps it is part of a plan to re-legalise fox hunting but with the
> foxes given a more equal chance. Hunting would be much more exciting if
> the hounds, horses, huntsmen, huntswomen and hunt followers were at risk
> of being killed and eaten by foxes.

Given that even tiger hunting with nothing but spears
(Balinese style) killed few hunters, this seems unlikely.
Being kicked to death by their horses
is a much greater risk to these brave 'sportsmen',

Jan

CDB

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 7:39:33 AM1/3/11
to
It's not a natural reading, although I agree that it may be the one
intended. Strictly speaking, "that is" meaning "i.e." should be
followed by an equivalent form, not an adjectival phrase: "a giant
*fox* -- that is [to say], *one* [or 'a fox'] that is twice the size
of a normal specimen --".
>>
If that is the intended meaning, then the phrase is parenthetical, as
shown above, and the first "that" (which corresponds to the only
"that" in the original example) is demonstrative, not relative. The
reason for the comma that John suggests may be the understood phrase
"to say" that I added, followed by a substitute form of words, written
as if it were a quotation but without the inverted thingies.


CDB

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 7:49:56 AM1/3/11
to
Garrett Wollman wrote:
>>
[apostrophes]

>>
> "Canadian Tire", on the other hand, counts as an
> Honorary French Word
>>

"A Danish tale, found in many places, tells of someone who notices an
apparently useless post sticking in the ground, and decides to pull it
up. As he tugs, a voice underground mutters hoarsely: 'Yes, pull,
pull. You pull, and I'll push. ...".


Nick

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 8:10:54 AM1/3/11
to
"Django Cat" <nota...@address.com> writes:

Just before Christmas, The Independent had an article on climate change
in which it had three or four large coloured panels with frightening
figures in them.

The first two gave figures for things like "average temperature over the
last five years" and gave a figure in Celsius with the equivalent in
Fahrenheit. The third gave "Average increase in summer temperature" as
something like 1.2 degrees C. Anyone want to guess what they put in
brackets.
--
Online waterways route planner | http://canalplan.eu
Plan trips, see photos, check facilities | http://canalplan.org.uk

Plac

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 8:20:30 AM1/3/11
to
On Jan 3, 1:10 pm, Nick <3-nos...@temporary-address.org.uk> wrote:

> "Django Cat" <notar...@address.com> writes:
> > Vinny Burgoo wrote:
>
> >> Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
> >> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
> >> captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
> >> because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
> >> 'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long,
> >> about the height of a seven-year-old child.'
>
> > Hmm, this from the paper that is said to have reported Elizabeth
> > Taylor's arrival in the UK with the deathless, though possibly
> > apocryphal, "Miss Taylor said that being in London made her feel like a
> > million dollars (?486,594 11s 5d)."
>
> Just before Christmas, The Independent had an article on climate change
> in which it had three or four large coloured panels with frightening
> figures in them.
>
> The first two gave figures for things like "average temperature over the
> last five years" and gave a figure in Celsius with the equivalent in
> Fahrenheit.  The third gave "Average increase in summer temperature" as
> something like 1.2 degrees C.  Anyone want to guess what they put in
> brackets.

33.2 F.

Prai Jei

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 8:58:13 AM1/3/11
to
Plac set the following eddies spiralling through the space-time continuum:

>> The first two gave figures for things like "average temperature over the
>> last five years" and gave a figure in Celsius with the equivalent in
>> Fahrenheit.  The third gave "Average increase in summer temperature" as
>> something like 1.2 degrees C.  Anyone want to guess what they put in
>> brackets.
>
> 33.2 F.

Should have been the other way round of course - °F in the main body of the
text and °C in brackets. Is that what you mean?
--
ξ:) Proud to be curly

Interchange the alphabetic letter groups to reply

Peter Moylan

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 9:19:48 AM1/3/11
to
Eric Walker wrote:
> On Mon, 03 Jan 2011 00:09:03 +0000, Vinny Burgoo wrote:
>
>> Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>>
>> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
>> captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
>> because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>>
>> 'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
>> the height of a seven-year-old child.'
>
[...]

> Incidentally, would some Rightpondians update me on how common the use of
> "stone" is today in everyday speech or writing? I get the vague
> impression that it is quaint verging on archaic, but I'm here and you're
> there.

An Australian perspective: I know my weight in kg but not in stone. Back
before Australia adopted metric weights, I knew my weight in stone but
not in pounds. That suggests that stones are somewhat obsolete here, but
pounds are definitely archaic.

I still remember enough about stones to know that the fox appears to be
rather light for its height, and enough about feet to know that the fox
seems terribly short for its height.

The foot survives in my memory much better than do pounds and stones.
Perhaps that's because 30cm rulers look no different from foot rulers. I
still know that my height is somewhere between five foot six and six
foot, although I would need a calculator for a more accurate answer.

Nick

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 9:36:49 AM1/3/11
to
Prai Jei <pvstownse...@ntlworld.com> writes:

> Plac set the following eddies spiralling through the space-time continuum:
>
>>> The first two gave figures for things like "average temperature over the
>>> last five years" and gave a figure in Celsius with the equivalent in
>>> Fahrenheit.  The third gave "Average increase in summer temperature" as
>>> something like 1.2 degrees C.  Anyone want to guess what they put in
>>> brackets.
>>
>> 33.2 F.
>
> Should have been the other way round of course - °F in the main body of the
> text and °C in brackets. Is that what you mean?

No.

tony cooper

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 9:37:26 AM1/3/11
to
On Tue, 04 Jan 2011 01:19:48 +1100, Peter Moylan
<inv...@peter.pmoylan.org.invalid> wrote:

>
>I still remember enough about stones to know that the fox appears to be
>rather light for its height, and enough about feet to know that the fox
>seems terribly short for its height.

The measurement was length, not height. The height reference was a
comparison to the height of child.

It depends on how the fox was measured. If the measurement was
nose-tip to brush-tip, there's a lot of lightweight tail fur involved.

--
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida

John Dunlop

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 11:43:48 AM1/3/11
to
Mike Page:

(BrE usage)

> 'Four foot long' is acceptable informal usage.

Not only acceptable in informal contexts but also more common than "feet"
in speech, as these figures from the spoken part of the British National
Corpus show:

<six foot> 73
<six feet> 21
<five foot> 60
<five feet> 16

Figures from the whole corpus show that "feet" is more common in writing:

<six foot> 192
<six feet> 328
<five foot> 135
<five feet> 230

--
John

jgharston

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 11:59:25 AM1/3/11
to
Garrett Wollman wrote:
> (AmE usage would be "four feet long", in any case, but
> I understand BrE allows "four foot" here.)

The fox was four feet long.
It was a four-foot-long fox.

The child was seven years old
It was a seven-year-old child.

Note the singular/plurals and the hyphens.

JGH

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 1:21:01 PM1/3/11
to

Quite right as far as you go; but in high-level informal language it's
perfectly correct to say or write "The fox was four foot six inches
from nose to tail." (Masks and brushes come under a different
heading.) The smallest units appear to be treated differently, though:
but I don't know /why/ we don't seem to be free to say *"His brush was
seven inch thick, and I tipped the huntsman five penny for it, and he
spent it on two pint of beer." Only country folk now say "A hundred
mile", though; and I'm not at all sure "yard" can be used in this
singular-for-plural style.

--
Mike

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 1:31:00 PM1/3/11
to

Gosh! That and a bonnish mot about /Seven Pillars/ in a single day:
makes me feel like just a gnat's crotchet short of £646,579.60.

--
Mike.

Andrew B.

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 1:46:53 PM1/3/11
to
On Jan 3, 12:09 am, Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>
> 'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
> captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
> because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>
> 'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
> the height of a seven-year-old child.'
>
> <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8235940/Giant-fox-caught-in-M
> aidstone.html>

The printed version, for comparison:

"A fox that was twice the size of normal has been killed in Kent,
raising fears that the animals are growing larger because of an "easy
living" on food scraps

The male fox weighed two stone (12.7kg) and was four foot long, about
the height of an average seven-year-old child."

LFS

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 1:50:30 PM1/3/11
to
Mike Lyle wrote:

> Gosh! That and a bonnish mot about /Seven Pillars/ in a single day:
> makes me feel like just a gnat's crotchet short of £646,579.60.
>

Did you look that up or do it in your head? Currency fluctuations being
what they are, it's now only £645,279.79.

--
Laura
(emulate St. George for email)

Nick

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 2:33:28 PM1/3/11
to
Mike Lyle <mike_l...@yahoo.co.uk> writes:

I have a feeling that the shape of the way the inches are added makes it
more likely. "It was five-and-a-half feet long", "it was five feet and
6 inches", "it was five foot 6".

I'm trying now to remember if Spiny Norman's length was given as "twelve
foot" or "twelve feet".

R H Draney

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 3:55:55 PM1/3/11
to
Nick filted:

>
>I'm trying now to remember if Spiny Norman's length was given as "twelve
>foot" or "twelve feet".

It's "feet"...the Python reference for plural "foot" was the "Buying a Bed"
sketch....r


--
Me? Sarcastic?
Yeah, right.

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 4:31:30 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 06:21:50 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org
(Garrett Wollman) wrote:

>In article <vum2i69o64uecj5b0...@4ax.com>,
>Steve Hayes <haye...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:19:21 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
>>Wollman) wrote:
>>
>>>Did the Torygraph's subeditors imbibe rather too much for New Year's?
>>
>>New Year's WHAT?
>
>New Year's. The holiday. No complement is required, any more than if
>I said I was going to buy some jeans at Kohl's.
>
>Persons of a certain age and geographical affiliation will remember
>when a number of national retailers changed their branding in Quebec
>to eliminate the illegal English apostrophes in their trade names.
>(Apparently "Canadian Tire", on the other hand, counts as an Honorary
>French Word, like "stop", as far as the Language Police were
>concerned.)
>

But you must admit that "New Year's" is rather an outlier, in that no
other festival gets this treatment, as far as I know. Do you say
"Veterans'"? "Mothers'"? "George Washington's"? And there probably
isn't another well-known entity in the vicinity named "Kohl's", so
custom, context, and probability unite to make it all but certain that
you mean the shop.

--
Mike.

Vinny Burgoo

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 4:55:13 PM1/3/11
to

Thanks. The subs always do a good job of cleaning up Gray's copy
(leaving only the factual errors, which aren't their business, and
errors arising from her ambiguity).

--
VB

Vinny Burgoo

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 5:16:06 PM1/3/11
to
In alt.usage.english, Jerry Friedman wrote:

>On Jan 2, 5:19 pm, woll...@bimajority.org (Garrett Wollman) wrote:
>> Vinny Burgoo  <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

>> >Louise Gray (who else?) in The Telegraph:
>>
>> >'A giant fox, that is twice the size of a normal specimen, has been
>> >captured in Kent, sparking fears that the animals are growing larger
>> >because of "easy living" on bins and scraps.
>>
>> >'The male fox weighed two stone or 26.5lb and was four foot long, about
>> >the height of a seven-year-old child.'
>

>[snip justified criticism]
>
>> Oh, and the first sentence you quote has either two commas too many or
>> one too few.
>...
>
>Or it's an example of Creeping Nonrestrictive That, which seems to be
>natural for some Kids These Days.

That's almost certainly what it is. The Creeping Nonrestrictive That is
one of Gray's trademark errors. I don't think I've ever seen her use a
'which' with a non-restrictive clause.

Some earlier examples (ain't Zotero grand?):

'The University of St Andrews, that is leading the investigation, blamed
the highly unusual lacerations on boats.'

'They studied the nature of the injuries, that appeared to be caused by
the seals rotating against a smooth edged blade and simulated the motion
of the boats found in the areas where the seals washed up.'

'A rare moth with skull an [sic] crossbones markings, that was used to
illustrate horror film Silence of the Lambs, will be on the wing this
Halloween.'

'An increase in funding for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, that
takes up half the £3bn budget, signals support for the nuclear
industry.'

'The 'Feed in Tariff', that will pay consumers for installing renewable
energy sources, will remain at current rates until 2013 and then be cut
by £40 million.'

'Climate Sense, a loose affiliation of "climate sceptic groups", are
calling for the Climate Act, that commits the UK to cutting greenhouse
gases by 80 per cent by 2050 to be repealed.'

'Rhinopithecus Strykeri, that is known in the local dialect as monkey
with an upturned face, was found by scientists from Flora and Fauna
International investigating gibbons [sic] populations in forests up to
10,000ft above sea level.'

'The National Trust, that bought 1,500 hectares on Kinder Scout is to
invest £2.5 million in 're-wilding' the area by planting heather and
allowing bogs to fill up with water.'

'In the first conference to be called on pets and climate change,
scientists warned that the small heartworm, that kills dogs, cats and
foxes, is already on the rise in the UK with more cases appearing in the
north of the country and Scotland because of warmer wetter summers.'

'Prof Trees also said species of tapeworm, that can prove fatal to
humans, could be brought into the country if restrictions are lifted
further and temperatures are warm enough.'

'PepsiCo, that produces Walker Crisps and Quaker Oats, is already
bringing in a number of new farming techniques to cut carbon emissions
by half over the next five years on the 350 farms they use around the
UK.'

'The EU, including Britain, is considering bringing in the measure, that
will be used in the same way as gross domestic product (GDP) to
calculate a country’s wealth.'

'Dr Pope also said that new technologies, that improve the accuracy of
measurements, show that the rate of increasing temperatures over the
last ten years could be slightly more than previously estimated.'

Some of those could be interpreted as examples of the Commatosed
Restrictive, which improperly herds a properly 'that'-ed restrictive
into a parenthesis, rather than the Creeping Nonrestrictive. Sensewise,
it sometimes doesn't matter which it is, but it often makes a huge
difference. How are the subs - or her online readers - to know which
error she's committing? Was Prof Trees's warning about fatal tapeworms
or merely about tapeworms in general, some of which, the reader might be
interested to know, can be fatal to humans? Is there more than one type
of small heartworm? There probably isn't more than one National Trust or
Rhinopithecus Strykeri but how are we to know whether there's more than
one Climate Act?

She's an idiot.

--
VB

Garrett Wollman

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 5:29:31 PM1/3/11
to
In article <5wPdTOPB...@shropshire.plus.com>,

Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>Thanks. The subs always do a good job of cleaning up Gray's copy
>(leaving only the factual errors, which aren't their business,

Interesting cultural difference: one of the primary jobs of a
copyeditor at a U.S. newspaper is precisely looking for factual
errors, bias, claims not supported by the quoted sources, and suchlike
(in addition to enforcing all the zombie rules in the paper's style
guide).

Last night, C-SPAN aired an interview with the controller of BBC
Parliament, who made the claim that while a large fraction of the
British population read newspapers, they don't necessarily believe
what's in them, whereas television journalism is considered to be more
credible. I think the opposite is true here (or at best that neither
medium is considered particularly trustworthy).

-GAWollman
--
Garrett A. Wollman | What intellectual phenomenon can be older, or more oft
wol...@bimajority.org| repeated, than the story of a large research program
Opinions not shared by| that impaled itself upon a false central assumption
my employers. | accepted by all practitioners? - S.J. Gould, 1993

franzi

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 5:26:21 PM1/3/11
to
Andrew B. <bul...@gmail.com> wrote
There's certainly an infelicity in stating that a length is a height.
The height of an average seven-year-old child is not four foot long, but
four foot (taking the numerical values of these measures as true).
--
franzi

Skitt

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:06:09 PM1/3/11
to
Vinny Burgoo wrote:
> Andrew B. wrote:
>> Vinny Burgoo wrote:

Something ain't quite right here. I'd say that a five-foot stick is
five feet long, not five foot long. A two-mile stretch is two miles
long. The fox was four feet long, but it was a four-foot-long fox. Oh,
it also had four feet, of course -- it was a four-footed fox, I'd guess.

The subs need a bit more shaping up.

--
Skitt (SF Bay Area)
http://come.to/skitt

David Hatunen

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:07:02 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 03 Jan 2011 07:54:39 +0000, Eric Walker wrote:

> Incidentally, would some Rightpondians update me on how common the use
> of "stone" is today in everyday speech or writing? I get the vague
> impression that it is quaint verging on archaic, but I'm here and you're
> there.

About a decade ago my wife and I wee visiting friends near Cambridge UK.
His wife asked how much I weighed. I replied, "about 215 pounds." She
turned to her husband and asked "How much is that in stones?"

--
Dave Hatunen, Tucson, Arizona, out where the cacti grow

Vinny Burgoo

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:14:14 PM1/3/11
to

Good point. Perhaps I should have said that they make the best of a bad
job. Perhaps they weren't sure whether 'four foot long' had a technical
meaning in the world of environmentalism.

--
VB
Or perhaps they're shite too

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:26:55 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 03 Jan 2011 18:50:30 +0000, LFS
<la...@DRAGONspira.fsbusiness.co.uk> wrote:

>Mike Lyle wrote:
>
>> Gosh! That and a bonnish mot about /Seven Pillars/ in a single day:
>> makes me feel like just a gnat's crotchet short of £646,579.60.
>>
>
>Did you look that up or do it in your head? Currency fluctuations being
>what they are, it's now only £645,279.79.

No, I'm afraid I Googled it. I did move the decimal point myself,
though.

--
Mike.

Peter Duncanson (BrE)

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:32:41 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 22:29:31 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
Wollman) wrote:

>In article <5wPdTOPB...@shropshire.plus.com>,
>Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>>Thanks. The subs always do a good job of cleaning up Gray's copy
>>(leaving only the factual errors, which aren't their business,
>
>Interesting cultural difference: one of the primary jobs of a
>copyeditor at a U.S. newspaper is precisely looking for factual
>errors, bias, claims not supported by the quoted sources, and suchlike
>(in addition to enforcing all the zombie rules in the paper's style
>guide).
>
>Last night, C-SPAN aired an interview with the controller of BBC
>Parliament, who made the claim that while a large fraction of the
>British population read newspapers, they don't necessarily believe
>what's in them, whereas television journalism is considered to be more
>credible. I think the opposite is true here (or at best that neither
>medium is considered particularly trustworthy).
>

The BBC has a legal obligation to be impartial in its reporting and
comment.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/about/how_we_govern/agreement.txt

REGULATORY OBLIGATIONS ON THE UK PUBLIC
SERVICES

....
44. Accuracy and impartiality
(1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects
are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant
output.

Discussions can be broadcast in which various views are expressed but
there must be balance.

The commercial broadcasting sector is subject to the Broadcasting Code:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/broadcast-codes/broadcast-code/impartiality/

Section Five: Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence
of Views and Opinions

Principles

To ensure that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy
and presented with due impartiality.

To ensure that the special impartiality requirements of the Act are
complied with.
....
Due impartiality and due accuracy in news

5.1 News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and
presented with due impartiality.

5.2 Significant mistakes in news should normally be acknowledged and
corrected on air quickly. Corrections should be appropriately
scheduled.

5.3 No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or
reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is
editorially justified. In that case, the political allegiance of
that person must be made clear to the audience.
....
....
5.9 Presenters and reporters (with the exception of news presenters
and reporters in news programmes), presenters of "personal view" or
"authored" programmes or items, and chairs of discussion programmes
may express their own views on matters of political or industrial
controversy or matters relating to current public policy. However,
alternative viewpoints must be adequately represented either in the
programme, or in a series of programmes taken as a whole.
Additionally, presenters must not use the advantage of regular
appearances to promote their views in a way that compromises the
requirement for due impartiality. Presenter phone-ins must encourage
and must not exclude alternative views.


--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)

Peter Duncanson (BrE)

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:34:22 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 22:26:21 +0000, franzi
<et.in.arca...@googlemail.com> wrote:

>The male fox weighed two stone (12.7kg) and was four foot long, about
>>the height of an average seven-year-old child."

It could be reworded as:

The male fox ... was four foot long, about as long as
an average seven-year-old child is tall."

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:37:10 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 22:29:31 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org
(Garrett Wollman) wrote:

>In article <5wPdTOPB...@shropshire.plus.com>,
>Vinny Burgoo <hlu...@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>>Thanks. The subs always do a good job of cleaning up Gray's copy
>>(leaving only the factual errors, which aren't their business,
>
>Interesting cultural difference: one of the primary jobs of a
>copyeditor at a U.S. newspaper is precisely looking for factual
>errors, bias, claims not supported by the quoted sources, and suchlike
>(in addition to enforcing all the zombie rules in the paper's style
>guide).

The general run of British think precision is for geeks, wimps,
pedants, nerds, prescriptivists, swots, wallies, and the foreigners
imported to clear up the resulting mess. One Guardian columnist,
mentioning a mistake he'd made the week before, said, "...anyway, I've
always wanted to appear in the /Corrections and Clarifications
Column/."

...Sorry, but you woke my hobby-horse, and it would have kicked down
the stable door if I hadn't given it a gallop.


>
>Last night, C-SPAN aired an interview with the controller of BBC
>Parliament, who made the claim that while a large fraction of the
>British population read newspapers, they don't necessarily believe
>what's in them, whereas television journalism is considered to be more
>credible. I think the opposite is true here (or at best that neither
>medium is considered particularly trustworthy).
>

Broadcast media are regulated, while print isn't really.

--
Mike.

Skitt

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:40:41 PM1/3/11
to
Peter Duncanson (BrE) wrote:
> franzi wrote:

>> The male fox weighed two stone (12.7kg) and was four foot long, about
>>> the height of an average seven-year-old child."
>
> It could be reworded as:
>
> The male fox ... was four foot long, about as long as
> an average seven-year-old child is tall."

Make it "... four feet long -- " and it'll be fine.

Mike Page

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 6:53:14 PM1/3/11
to
On 03/01/2011 18:50, LFS wrote:
> Mike Lyle wrote:
>
>> Gosh! That and a bonnish mot about /Seven Pillars/ in a single day:
>> makes me feel like just a gnat's crotchet short of £646,579.60.
>>
>
> Did you look that up or do it in your head? Currency fluctuations being
> what they are, it's now only £645,279.79.
>
The price of gnat's crochets is something awful these days.

--
MP

Garrett Wollman

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 10:15:28 PM1/3/11
to
In article <irm4i616o3q7c52rr...@4ax.com>,

Well, broadcasters are regulated here, too, but not on the basis of
the factuality of their news coverage (if indeed they bother to do
any). They have to give their callsign and community of license once
an hour on the hour; irradiate said community with a specified
electric field; have a telephone number reachable without toll from
same (answering optional); operate at least 18 hours a day (Sundays
excepted); paint and light their tower in accordance with FAA
regulations (assuming they own the tower); use only type-approved
transmitters; maintain their Emergency Alert System devices in
correctly-configured, working order; maintain a public file at their
Official Main Studio or another location in their community of license
that is regularly accessible to the public; broadcast at least three
hours of E/I programming a week (TV only); broadcast not more than N
minutes of commercials per hour during children's programming (TV
only); and not utter or permit others to utter any of the words from
George Carlin's "Dirty Words" sketch between the hours of 6 AM and 10
PM. Nothing about fairness, accuracy, or anything of that ilk.

In a couple of months, television stations will also be required to
limit the relative loudness of advertising as compared to the
programming it's embedded in. How many of them will actually bother
to do so (given that there's no mechanism for enforcement and the FCC
doesn't generally pay attention to viewer complaints) is not clear.

Steve Hayes

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 10:30:01 PM1/3/11
to
On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 06:21:50 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
Wollman) wrote:

>In article <vum2i69o64uecj5b0...@4ax.com>,
>Steve Hayes <haye...@yahoo.com> wrote:


>>On Mon, 3 Jan 2011 00:19:21 +0000 (UTC), wol...@bimajority.org (Garrett
>>Wollman) wrote:
>>
>>>Did the Torygraph's subeditors imbibe rather too much for New Year's?
>>
>>New Year's WHAT?
>
>New Year's. The holiday. No complement is required, any more than if
>I said I was going to buy some jeans at Kohl's.

Ah, like those other US holidays, Martin Luther King's, Memorial's, Labour's,
Thanksgiving's and Halloween's?


--
Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/stevesig.htm
Blog: http://methodius.blogspot.com
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk

Garrett Wollman

unread,
Jan 3, 2011, 10:41:14 PM1/3/11