Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More Errors

‘I gave it back to the Chinese national, whom I was helpfully told is married to a Singaporean’ (Sunday Times, 30 September 2007).

An exceedingly common error in the Straits Times. Note that I was helpfully told is parenthetical matter; hence we ought to be able to remove it without affecting the grammar of the rest of the sentence. However, doing so would give us:

*I gave it back to the Chinese national, whom is married to a Singaporean.

Whom is therefore wrong — make it who. Bear in mind that who is the subject of is married, not the object of told.

‘… the common perception of lawyers was that they were straight-laced and serious’ (New Paper on Sunday, 30 September 2007).

Make it strait-laced. The words strait and straight are etymologically unrelated. Amongst other things, strait can be an adjective meaning ‘tight, narrow, close, severely regulated’, or a noun meaning ‘narrow or tight place’, ‘strait of the sea’, ‘distress’ (OED). Hence, we also have the Straits of Johor, the Malacca Straits, straitened circumstances, and strait jacket.

Growing up in Bangkok, Mrs Forest Leong remembers her chef father coming back from work and whipping up meals for the family’ (Sunday Lifestyle, 30 September 2007).

The non-finite clause, Growing up in Bangkok, should refer only to the period when she was growing up (e.g. Growing up in Bangkok, Forest enjoyed helping out in the kitchen). Hence, make it:

Having grown up in Bangkok, Mrs Forest Leong remembers …

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