Friday, February 3, 2012

Who makes a fuss about a small error in a community newspaper? I do (Singular vs Plural)

Ok, I don't think I'm abnormal. I also don't think I'm crazy -- OK  maybe just a little. I'm also not a perfectionist. I'm just a little bit passionate about a few things. "Words" are one of them. They have to make sense. They have to be true and correct. I know a whole lot of people who are like that too. They are called copy- or sub-editors, proofreaders, word-smiths, word engineers, and so forth.

I had just woken up. It must have been 11.15am. I know I'm one of the most envied person right now. I sleep and wake up at whatever time I want to. I don't answer to anyone. (Damn I've always wanted to say that) Let me repeat it: I don't answer to anyone. No more crazy traffic in the morning, no more rat-race for me, and definitely no more waking up in the early morning. (Well except for Saturday mornings when I have to get up at 4am to prepare for my 6am to 9am radio show.) And this is how things are going to be for me, at least, for quite a while.
I am watching you.

So the first thing I did was grab a copy of a local newspaper. Page 1, page 2, then on page 3, I picked up my phone and called the editor/manager. He's not in. So I asked for his e-mail address:

Dear Mr Dlamini

My name is Refilwe Thobega. I was paging through the Express Northern Cape dated Wednesday 1 February when I could not help but notice a glaring subbing error.

It is on page 3, main story, headline: Shucks, there's holes in the condom.

The story is about three million freely available Choice condoms in the Free State, which have been recalled because some had holes. 

It cannot be there "is" if there are "holes".
It should have been there're (there are) because there are not one, but many holes.

Plural and not singular.

Another question: were the holes on only one condom or on a number of condoms?
Answer: there were holes on three million condoms.

"Shucks, there're holes in condoms" could have been the correct headline.

I just thought I should bring this to your attention, sir.

Please just check for errors such as these in the future. Don't underestimate your  readers. An average newspaper team should know the difference between singular and plural.

Kind Regards
Refilwe Thobega

Then I pressed the "send" button. What would I do without my Blackberry?

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