Bad English on the Wireless

I'm always wanting to scream at professional broadcasters for their misuse of the English language and some foreign pronunciations too. These are some of my screams. Further suggestions for additions to the list are always welcome!
IT'S HE!Similarly "It's she", "it's they", "it is I", "it is they". The verb to be takes a compliment, not an object.
It's WHOM!Use Whom in the accusative, dative and ablative cases.
It's FEWER!Use fewer if it's a number of items, but "less" if it's a smaller quantity of something.
You mean THE LAST!It's the latter of two but the last of many. Similarly former and first.
You mean SPASMODIC not SPORADIC!Sporadic means "here and there" (in space); spasmodic means "now and then" (in time).
It's COMPRISES!A comprises or consists of or is composed of B and C, but never is comprised of.
DATA ARE ...!The singular is datum. If you use data like sugar you then have to use a long-winded phrase like "an item of data" when you mean a datum.
The media ARE ...Media is the plural of medium. When we talk about the media we usually mean the mass communication media i.e. the medium of television, the medium of radio, the medium of the press, etc. We also talk about storage media such as tapes, discs, flash memory. One storage volume is not a media.
It's A CRITERION!Criteria is the plural of criterion. Even worse is the double plural, criterias.
It's A BACTERIUM!Bacteria is the plural of bacterium.
It's A GRAFFITO!Graffiti is the plural of graffito. It's Italian. Similarly manifesti is the plural of manifesto but manifestos is usual and acceptable.
The BBC IS ...It's one corporation, so singular. This applies to names of organisations, countries, teams, etc. and to any collective noun used in the singular.
It's NÜRBURGRING not NURBURGRING!The umlaut modifies the vowel sound.
It's NUREMBURG not NÜREMBURG!The "e" after one consonant does NOT modify the vowel in German.
It's PORSCHE not PORSH!The final "e" is pronounced. I don't expect reporters and commentators to be fluent in foreign languages but they could at least learn the basic elements of French and German pronunciation.
It's LE MANS not LE MONS!Similarly Grand Prix, not Grond Prix. Practice saying "Un bon vin blanc".
It's UTTOXETER not YOU-TOXETER!There is no justification whatever for a long "u", so pronounce the "u" as in utter, under and Roger Utley.
It's FLYING SCOTSMAN!There is no definite article in the name of the locomotive. "The Flying Scotsman" is a named train which runs between King's Cross and Edinburgh.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee did not invent the internet!He invented the Worldwide Web. Internet Protocol (there is no such thing as "the internet") emerged from the ARPAnet project in the 1960s. The web is just one of a number of applications using IP.

A Few More Pet Hates

  • DECIMATE means to punish an army by killing every tenth soldier. It does not mean to reduce something to a tenth or less.
  • DRACONIAN - Draco would execute people for the smallest misdemeanour. Draconian is not a general purpose synonym for severe.
  • The "PC gone mad" use of the plural personal pronoun (they, them, their, theirs) in the singular.
  • BAYERN MUNICH - why anglicise one half of the name of FC Bayern München and not the other? We English don't say we're going on holiday to Bayern, do we?
  • BACK-TO-BACK means facing in opposite directions. Why is it used to mean consecutive?
  • A KNEE-JERK REACTION - it's a reflex reaction! Why keep using that dreadful tabloid cliché?


I'm sure that there'll be some mistakes on this page so let's be having them!

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Last updated 29th August, 2012