Wednesday, 12 September 2007

"Middlesborough's" Guardian Angels

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A few years ago, I wrote an article in a football fanzine about the media’s infuriating practice of inserting a second ‘o’ in the word ‘Middlesbrough’, making ‘Middlesborough’.

In their ‘irreverent’ ‘Football Diary’ section the next week, The Guardian newspaper made satirical mention of the piece. This was sumptuously ironic as they were, and still are, by far the most frequent culprits of this crime against spelling, sense, atlases (oh how I wish the plural were ‘atlai’) and encyclopaedias (ditto ‘encyclopaedi’, although that does sound a bit like a trendy name for the Sex Offenders’ Register).

Further, the region Middlesbrough is located in often appears as ‘Teeside’ (it is ‘Teesside’, as in beside the River Tees). I have written to the Guardian on several occasions in the last year alone on both counts, but replies there have come none, to use an incredibly irritating current linguistic style (see “up with that they will not put”).

Today, though, the sub-editors of the newspaper have surpassed themselves.

The letters page in the Sports section carries missives directly next to each other in which BOTH spellings are used:

What a logic defying approach to sub-editing. Schizophrenic, in fact. Or, perhaps the sub-editor was a bit like a flawed character from a rubbish sitcom who couldn’t decide which ‘gal’ to take to dinner (Middlesbrough or Middlesborough?) so dated both at once, despite there being no apparent need to do so.

As if that was not enough, look at the headline above the second letter. Unless they are making a pun on that well known phrase about the pleasure of surprisingly stumbling upon a tightly braided rope, then I think, Betty, they’ve done another whoopsie.

This country.

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Blogger Tom said...

Two Guardian-related posts in a week. If they're not careful, they'll end up on The List.

12 September 2007 at 19:03  
Blogger Gez said...

*In the style of Captain Kirk*

Too.. many... in-jokes.. references.. obscure... brain, can't cope... genius... head... hurts..

12 September 2007 at 23:15  
Blogger Paddy said...

You've got to love the Guardian sub-editors. They're a law unto themselves, if there's actually more than one of them. I wouldn't be that surprised to learn that, as the latest symptom of job cuts in the print industry, all of its errors are down to the fact there's just a lone sub-editor putting the whole paper together. I'll call him Dietmar, 48, and naturally, he's a Berliner!!!!11!1¬

In fact, I bet the bloke who supposedly misspelt Middlesbrough's name when incorrectly registering the town in the first place, with its shortage of an 'o', was a Guardian sub rushed off his feet.

I was quite impressed to discover that the Wikipedia entry for Misspelling has 'Middlesborough' in its list of notable misspellings, in the company of Oprah Winfrey. Fame at last.

12 September 2007 at 23:44  
Blogger Paddy said...

Also, this week I've been slightly irritated this week that all the advertisments and mailouts announcing that Patrick Wolf, one of my favourite current artists, will be appearing live in Middlesbrough have used the '-borough' spelling. It's put a dampener on what should have been a joyous announcement.

13 September 2007 at 00:05  
Blogger Paddy said...

Too many 'o's... too many 'this weeks'. It can happen to anyone.

13 September 2007 at 00:06  
Blogger Dan said...

Gez: Sometimes I read back what I have written and realise that I have now got to a stage where I am doing in-jokes with myself.

Paddy: Gig/art posters are probably the second worst offenders here.

I have often thought about compiling a folder of cuttings of 'Middlesboroughs'. Perhaps I could then submit it to mima as a piece of installation art.

However, this would be a bit obsessive (even for me), and I don't know what installation art is, presumably art you install? But isn't all art installed at some point? It doesn't just grow on walls.

And now I sound like an awful observational comic so I am going.

13 September 2007 at 09:36  
Blogger Paddy said...

Perhaps for this art installation you could cut out all of the excess 'Os' from your cuttings and carefully arrange them into a massive picture of Robocop Mallon. Thus symbolising the mayoral excesses of the town and transmitting a clear 'We don't want you here, Raymond' message.

13 September 2007 at 15:44  
Blogger Gez said...

Dan, does your article of "a few years ago" exist on the internet anywhere? If not, how about the Football Diary article that referenced it? As a member of the blogosphere I demand depth of information.

13 September 2007 at 16:00  
Blogger Dan said...

Did I ever tell you that Mallon was in mima when I went? Probably. Was he checking for anti-Mallon 'O' installments? You bet (I've never said or written that before, except when talking about the Matthew Kelly-fronted* ITV show).

Gez, the article and clipping are in ye olde printe at home in a box. I may scan them, but I may forget altogether.

*All jokes about Matthew Kelly's frontal regions suspended due to possible legal action.

13 September 2007 at 16:26  

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