GrammarBlog

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Putting Middlesborough on the Map

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Fans of GrammarBlog (stop laughing at the back) will be familiar with the ubiquitous misspelling of ‘Middlesbrough’.

This is a particularly brilliant example, found today on Premier Travel Inn’s website:



Did the cartographer think there were places called ‘Middlesbrough’ and ‘Middlesborough’ right next to each other?

Elsewhere, when a customer wishing to stay on Teesside reaches the Booking Summary page, Premier Travel Inn employ the 12-character abbreviation ‘Midd’borough’.

This is like abbreviating abbreviation to abrvv’ation: not only have they saved just one character, they have also introduced a completely erroneous additional letter.

Makes. Me. Mad.

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11 Comments:
Blogger Gez said...

That's what you get for visiting Middlesbrough, just avoid the place like most rational people do.

9 October 2007 at 15:44  
Blogger Dan said...

I don't understand your logic: you get a badly spelt map for going?

Is that some kind of punishment?

Who hands them out?

9 October 2007 at 16:36  
Anonymous PunkRok4EVA said...

Premier Travel Inn employ the 12-character abbreviation

Premier Travel Inn employs the 12-character abbreviation

9 October 2007 at 17:23  
Blogger Gez said...

Punk-rock forever: I think, in this instance you are right but you've touched on an interesting distinction between English and American English regarding the treatment of collective nouns.

Here is an interesting forum discussion on the topic.

9 October 2007 at 17:56  
Blogger Gez said...

I should add that I don't mean English people treat collective nouns as plural, just that they are more likely to do so depending on context.

E.g. The hospital staff are diligent.
Staff is a collective noun - but treated as a plural.

It could be viewed it's acceptable to treat a collective noun as a plural when referring to the actions of its members rather than the group as a whole.

E.g. The flock was decimated by the errant badger. (whole flock decimated)

The flock were uneasy in the presence of the amorous Welshman. (flock's level of unease isn't uniform, presumably dependant on the proximity of individuals to the Welshman.)

"The cabinet is responsible for the death of a soldier." This reads as it should, the death is due to the actions of the cabinet (in parliamentary terms) as a whole.

"The cabinet are responsible for the death of a soldier." This reads like the cabinet have personally carried out the killing.

I could be (and I suspect that I am) completely wrong about this but it's worth making the point.

9 October 2007 at 19:24  
Blogger Dan said...

'PunkRok4EVA' (who is this ‘Eva’ person? Lots of people seem to be writing about her these days.): I did think about that, believe me, and you are technically correct.

However, as Gez intonates, I used the 'English English' style.

Similarly, a correct sentence would be ‘Manchester City is a football club owned by a man Human Rights Watch described as “"a human rights abuser of the worst kind"’, yet it would nearly always be written as ‘Manchester City are a football club owned by a man Human Rights Watch described as “"a human rights abuser of the worst kind"’.

Only the Americans have hung on to the correct usage, but then they’ve also hung on to a president who can’t talk properly.

10 October 2007 at 10:01  
Blogger Dan said...

I used the formation .): there.

Ugly, but it does look like someone fencing while on rollerskates, which is always a bonus.

10 October 2007 at 10:03  
Blogger Gez said...

Thaksin is great, he sang blue moon ergo he can't be a human rights abuser. Is it possible you are bitter over City's 3-1 win against Middlesbrough?

10 October 2007 at 11:36  
Blogger Dan said...

No: we were deservedly beaten by a better side, a side very pleasing to watch, and a club I used to have a soft spot for.

I'm bitter about what has become of the game I used to love.

10 October 2007 at 11:56  
Blogger Gez said...

Also the example you used was a bad one. I don't think I would ever say, "Manchester city are a football club...", I might say, "Manchester City are now third in the Premier League." Either way, I think we are technically wrong and I fully recognise the hypocrisy of that.

11 October 2007 at 13:24  
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