Okay, we might have our pedantic hat on once more for some of the little snippets in this edition of The Glass House but, then again, maybe not.
There was a time when sub-editors used subjects and verbs that agreed with each other in number – i.e. singular or plural.
You’d like an example? Sure. Each edition of The Australian loses a fucking truckload of money. All editions of The Australian lose a fucking truckload of money.
And so we come to this heading from Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald (above).
We’ll be old-fashioned and argue that “family” is singular. After all, how often do you hear: “Are your family with you on this trip?”.
Righto, please don’t respond! We get that “couple” has become kind of transsyntaxically ambivalent of recent decades! Never heard of transsyntaxically ambivalent or TA as it’s known? Look it up!
So we don’t cringe anymore – or at least as much – when we hear “the couple are due to appear in court…” Maybe that’s a bad example. We never much liked “a couple is” anyway.
But getting back to the current example, we can – at the very least – charge the SMH with inconsistency.
The author of the piece Kate McClymont – her name sounds familiar so let’s assume she knows her business – obviously sees “family” in the singular. Her intro went thus: “The family of missing Dover Heights woman Melissa Caddick is worried ….” The family is worried…
Now, we come to the worried look on the sub-editor processing Kate’s piece on Friday night.
Gosh, don’t you just hate in when the character count on each line of a heading simply doesn’t allow you to follow Kate’s lead and use “family” as singular?
Let’s assume that the correct way to approach “family” is not spelt out in the Nine Entertainment’s guidebook for their mastheads (insert canned laughter here).
So what does our sub do? He or she simply made “family” plural and used the plural “raise”, saving a character and allowing the words to fit the deck. How easy was that?
And any sub of old worth their salt would have done exactly the same thing. No, they really would have! Seriously.
Further inside that edition of the SMH, we got a chortle out of this particular paragraph about the murder trial of the bloke who killed an intruder with a samurai sword… Holy shit! We’d better be careful here if we’re sitting in judgement (or judgment)! Who had the sword again?
Anyway, here’s the bit that tickled our fancy. It’s the second par of the story above and the relevant part is at the end: ……….after Mr McKee burst into Mr Davis’ home at Forest Lodge with a gun that fired blanks and demanded cash.
Now that’s one vicious gun in our view. And clever to boot. All we are suggesting is that par could have done with a little bit of rewriting.
And further into the paper, this in the sporting pages…
The Glass House has heard of airing dirty linen and, very occasionally, airing dirty laundry.
Still, we accept that the use of English is a moving fester … sorry, feast… and if “airing dirty washing” is the way it’s going to be from now, then, like, WHAT EVER! See if we, like, care.
Pe dant …pe dant … pedant… pedant …pedant!