Shades Of The Bard

Dasu Krishnamoorty

The following sentence, showing the reporter’s panache for Shakespearean expression, appeared in a PTI report (The Hans India, 6 May 14, New Delhi):

“Appearing before a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan, Additional Solicitor General K V Vishwanathan submitted that blocking of all such websites would cause greater harm. “Everything would be blocked and even good literature would be blocked and it would cause more greater harm,” he said.

This use of more words than necessary is known as pleonasm, a cousin of redundancy. Derived from a Greek word meaning “excess,” pleonasm is a literary device involving the use of a second or more words than necessary, such as revert back, in actual fact etc.. Maybe, it was at one time a favourite device with stringers who were paid on the basis of word count. If the words were literally uttered by the Additional Solicitor General, the reporter could have parenthetically inserted sic next to the phrase.

With the massive editorial infrastructure it has, The Times of India is one of the world’s fifty largest English dailies, that has no excuse to publish such mistakes as cited below:

The Times of India (April 27, 2015) Hyderabad Times supplement shows under head “Telugu girls rise and shine in Tamil cinema” the last line of the first paragraph as reading, ‘And a new crop of Hyderabad girls like Nandini Rai, Ritu Varma, Eesha and Nandini Rai are following suit.’ The name of Nandini Rai was repeated. Also, the verb for the noun ‘crop’ is ‘is’ and not ‘are.’

TOI’s main edition of 03 May 2015 printed a big grammatical blunder. The news item headed “Funds flow freely for Naidu’s expenses” reads, ‘however, the building is now used being used only once a week by Naidu.” Such oversight is difficult to imagine.

Examples of violation of subject-verb-agreement are strikingly common and popular too.

A PTI report dated 29 Oct.10, 13 appearing in The Hindu says, “In several other edible items such as cereals, the increase of prices at the wholesale and retail levels were almost similar — both increasing by about 13 per cent even though prices of rice, surprisingly have shot up for inexplicable reasons since the country’s granaries are full and it had good Monsoon.”   The subject here is increase, a singular noun, and the verb will have to be in singular was and not plural were.  The verb appearing so far away from the noun must have confused the reporter, as it often happens if the copy editor does not take a second look at his copy.

From The Hindu (19 Sept. 2013):

“A big fan of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, Nikita is the daughter of Haridas of Vadakara, who own Intec Industries in Vadakara and Geetha.” The subject of the verb here is Nikita (daughter of Haridas). Therefore, the verb will have to be in singular owns. Perhaps, the reporter wanted to write, “Nikita, a big fan of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, is the daughter of Haridas and Geetha of Vadakara, who own….”

See this paragraph from The Hindu (April 4, 13): “In fact, the complex reality of her life, parts of which she kept hidden and refused to speak or write about, were more painful. Born to a Jewish solicitor in Cologne in 1927, her maternal grandfather was the cantor of the city’s biggest synagogue.” The verb should have been was. The writer Sunil Sethi made this mistake because the noun “reality” was far removed from its verb was (not were) more painful.

The Hindu 19 Sept. 13:  Take a look at this sentence: The very jarring sound of the sentence should have alerted the copy editor:

“Having being in the music business for decades, Shaukath knows a thing and two about sur and taal. “

Instances of questionable journalism:

Heading for Abhishek Sharan’s report in  Hindustan Times , New Delhi, July 07, 2013

Ishrat killed for promotions?

”Is Ishrat Killed for Promotions?” Asks a Hindustan Timescorrespondent (July 7. 2013). It suggests that the reporter is not certain about his facts and appeals to the reader to answer his question. Or it is possible that the reporter knows the answer but wants to know if the readers are as well informed as he is. Reporters/anchors of TV channels have become quizmasters.

Heading for NDTV midterm poll 2012:

Who will be prime minister 2014?

Both print and electronic media nowadays ask more questions of their readers and viewers than quizmasters. What is a question mark doing in a headline, one of you may ask. How does it concern you, someone else may ask you. It is very much a question of grammar because it changes the nature of a sentence from the affirmative to the interrogative.

 A heading in The HinduSept.18, 2013Grand final procession of Ganesh idols begin. Begins, it should have been. The same kind of illusion that distance induces between the subject and verb.

The Hindu, Hyd, 5 Sept.13: “The community makes around 4,000 drums and sells it (them) across the city, including far-flung places like L.B. Nagar, BHEL and Alwal during the season. Such is the product’s popularity that some of the families…..” a news item on dholak makers. Here the antecedent of the singular pronoun “it” is the plural noun “drums,” and is incorrect. It should have been “them.”

3 Responses

  1. m . r. dua says:

    once i used ‘alloted’ instead of “allotted ”
    in a headline when i was
    on the editorial desk of daily in delhi,
    i received a memo from the editor,
    cautioning me against such errors.
    those were the days !
    now a days, such fine nick picking is
    for ideologues like moortygaroo only.

  2. The collection of the different errors in expression from various journals and presented in this way is highly commendable and educative. Kudos to his great memory.

  3. SM Krishna says:

    Thank you for using the inputs appropriately. I am sending two more.

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