Friday, 25 July 2008

The revenge of the sub

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While I was adding my no-doubt unwanted and ill-advised editorial notes to Dan's last post I got carried away. I thought I'd continue in a new post to reduce the wrath.

This isn't the first time Coren has done this type of thing. His previous victim was fellow reviewer Feargus O'Sullivan. Before that, an unfortunate magazine sub-editor caught both barrels of Coren's direct email style for altering the typographers favourite phrase, the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

According to Giles, this latest email is "ancient". Could its leaking be connected with the recent emergence of a foul-mouthed Coren caricature on twitter? This assumed-to-be poseur kept me amused this week but has now sadly (if understandably) been booted from the service.

So is this an example of the sub's (or subs') revenge? The suspect list must include Owen, Amanda, Ben and Tony from the Times' editorial team who were the apparent targets of Coren's rage.

**Update: The Times subs have responded.

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The holy Coren

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This quite magnificent email was sent by British restaurant critic Giles Coren to the newspaper he writes for. It doesn’t seem in the least petty to me.

[In a highly satirical editor's note that will no doubt leave Dan foaming at the mouth, Coren-style mad, I'd like to share a transcript of a few highlights of the letter sent by Coren.
It was the final sentence. Final sentences are very, very important. A piece builds to them, they are the little jingle that the reader takes with him into the weekend.

I wrote: "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh."

It appeared as: "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh."

There is no length issue. This is someone thinking "I'll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate cunt and i know best".

Well, you fucking don't.
He goes on to explain the correctness of the indefinite article in the context of Yiddish syntax and the puerile double entendre implied by the original phrase.

And then this:
And worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed 'a' so that the stress that should have fallen on "nosh" is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you're winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can't you hear? Can't you hear that it is wrong? It's not fucking rocket science. It's fucking pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.
Don't hurt me, Dan - Ed]

[Actually it's Gez. I don't know anyone called Ed]

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

Not a trifling matter

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Passive Aggressive Notes is one of my favourite blogs. A major reason for this is the frequent mangling of the English language by disgruntled passive-aggressors. Below is one of my favourite entries from October of last year.


Isn't that marvellous? The txt speak, the sentence formation, the vulgarity, the threat (and ass kicking will surely follow) and the remarkable sign-off all add up to comedy gold. I was most confused by the use of the word trifling. In the context of such extreme vehemence, trifling – defined by those Oxford blokes as "unimportant or trivial" – seemed misplaced. In fact, I spent a good couple of minutes trying to identify a possible malapropism, to no avail.

"But why bring this up now?" I hear you ask, "this post is the best part of a year old!".

I shall tell you for why. At the end of last month I twittered (yes, that's a verb now) a message asking other twitterers what they thought of a piece from on language evolution. The author, Paul MacInnes was lamenting what he views as the introduction of unnecessary words into the formal lexicon.

It appears that GrammarBlog twitter friend eris_chaos agrees with MacInnes, responding thusly.

I find that irritating. We are THAT much closer to trifling meaning "nasty" in the dictionary instead of "trivial".

And the penny drops. It's not a malapropism, it's a colloquialism. That's an altogether different kind of ism. Indeed the urban dictionary (shudder) carries the following definition.

When a hippo takes a big dump in front of a group of 1st graders and then eats it.
That's triflin'.

In response to the hungry hippo's action, Oh no, that's triflin'!

You learn something new everyday every day.

Rather than launch into indignant polemic, I thought I'd canvass opinion on this matter. So what do you lot reckon?

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