Fail: Who’re you quoting anyway?

Posted on Mon 17 Dec 2012 @ 5.31am HKT

CONSIDER this for a moment:—

fail newspaper quoting a tree

No names mentioned, but this newspaper is in an English-speaking country.

It seems as if it’s quoting the tree, forcing the reader (even if momentarily) to do a double-take.

It would’ve been better just to use the quotation as a blurb and be done with it.

It’s a straightforward newspaper copydesk skill: use a ‘pull quote’ on its own, especially when the surrounding text or headlines give (or should give) enough indication that the story is about tree vandalism.

Broadly speaking, individual or discrete immobile or inanimate objects (such as plants and most non-living things) can’t be attacked. They can be damaged. That’s why in law we have that thing called criminal damage.

(All right, immobile/inanimate objects can actually be attacked in real life. Let’s not get too existentialistic or phenomenological or objectivistic about it. But most English speakers (at least in the UK) tend to describe the action that results in damage, e.g. “He was hacking at the tree and the branch was busted.” Saying someone ‘attacked’ a tree or something like that isn’t the usual phraseology.)

Animals or people (or animalistic people) can be attacked (and sometimes injured). That’s why in law we differentiate it with that thing called assault (common, aggravated, indecent or sexual) — plus that thing in the UK called GBH (grievous bodily harm).

A meaningless act of over-qualifying a blurb.

(Photo hat tip to Johnny)


© Learn English or Starve, 2012. Image via c4c. (B12462)

Posted in: Colour Section