Favorite

Words Dec. 1 

Tired of being totaled:

A reader asks why newspapers employ sentences such as “A total of 60 police and protesters were injured in the scuffles …” and “A total of 143 nations joined in approving two resolutions challenging the closing of the observer mission …”

“ ‘A total of’ seems clumsy and unnecessary,” he There’s an old rule in journalism that says, “Don’t start a sentence with a numeral. Spell out the numeral or recast the sentence.” The only explanation I’ve heard for the rule is that a numeral at the beginning of a sentence looks funny. There’s also a bias against spelling out large numerals, because of the amount of valuable space that would be required and because the spelled-out versions can be hard to read. “Sixty” wouldn’t be a problem, but “One hundred forty-three” would be something less than ideal.

So journalists often choose to re

What about our Redbugs, our Sand Lizards, our Little Johns:

Looking up nimrod the other day, after U.S. Rep. Marion Berry said a colleague was one, I learned there’s a high school football team in Watersmeet, Mich., called the Nimrods, and that this name was once listed by ESPN as the third-best team nickname among American high schools. Syrupmakers, of Cairo, Ga., was first on the list, followed by, in order, Beetdiggers (Brush, Colo.), Nimrods, Imps (Cary, N.C.), Atomsmashers (Johnson Prep in Savannah, Ga.), Angoras (Clarkston, Ga.), Flivvers (Kingsford, Mich.), Squirrels (Winslow, Ariz.) (sic), Peglegs (Stuyvesant in New York City) and Dots (Poca, W. Va.).

The Squirrels entry is sicced because it’s erroneous. The Squirrels took the field not in Winslow, Arizona, but in Winslow, Arkansas. Not any more, sadly. School consolidation has made the Squirrels extinct.



And another one in your soup:

Bob Lancaster spotted “There’s one flaw in your ointment …”




Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation