pedantry & poetry

"James Anderson becomes only the fourth England player to take 300 Test wickets during the first Test against New Zealand."

Cricket Tests are renowned for how long they last, but the BBC news to the right seems to imply they might go on for weeks: if Anderson was the fourth to take 300 wickets in the first Test, then three others had done so before him.

Just how long does it take for 1200+ wickets to be taken?

Elsewhere on the BBC last week I read their College of Journalism blog post: We all love lists, but are they all journalism?

At least, I began to read it. But when I reached this paragraph I gave up:

Journalists like lists, readers love lists. When BuzzFeed can get more than four million views of ‘The 13 Creepiest Things a Child has Ever Said to a Parent’ in a matter of days, the respected Huffington Post invest editorial resource in 18 Reasons Why Gwynneth Paltrow is Different From Us, and the Sunday Times Rich List (now in its 25th year) remain an annual publishing event, there is clearly an appetite.

When the writer doesn’t check how to spell a celebrity’s name (the original paragraph links through to the article on the Huff Post Comedy page where it is spelled correctly), inconsistently uses quotation marks for headlines, and thinks that “The Sunday Times Rich List” takes a plural verb, I can’t be bothered to continue. (See update at the end of the post.)

I wonder what I would learn from a College of Journalism where such grammar gets through the editing process. (I may have made fun of the cricket text, but it’s one thing for grammar mistakes to appear in a news story headline where deadlines and space limitations are critical, and quite another for such mistakes to appear in a blog post – on the BBC Academy pages – with no apparent word limit or format restrictions.**)

The stories coincide with the furore about grammar testing in schools and, unsurprisingly, the BBC have produced their own grammar test.

Thanks, as usual, to readers who have drawn my attention to these things.

For those who came looking for poetry, since we started with cricket, I offer you this piece that appeared on the blog some years ago so is now is deep down in the archives:

summer sport

After a busy evening
listening to cicada orchestras
and dancing with
through the weeds,
the cat comes home.

He sniffs the bowl of kibble
then looks up, looks
dissatisfied, as if to say,
“dried cat food’s

** Incidentally, I am well aware of Muphry’s Law, so assume this post is riddled with mistakes.

Edit: It’s been pointed out to me by email that my parsing of the sentence is faulty, as both ‘invest’ and ‘remain’ are infinitives that link back to ‘can’ in the first phrase. Thinking about it now, I agree that it’s probable that this is what was intended, but I’d read the paragraph a dozen times and not seen that possibility, so I still think it’s a tortuous sentence and not at all appropriate for on-line writing. I stand by what I said about quotation marks and spelling.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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