Every Goliath Has Its David

Last August, the Irish Times ran a story about two American grammar lovers who drove around the States in 2008 in an attempt to find and correct punctuation and grammar errors that they could find on public signs and in printed material in restaurants and other businesses. The author of the article noted that it’s primarily small businesses that tend to be guilty of such errors and he wondered if the duo would be busy with their correction fluid and markers in Ireland. Personally, I think they’d have a field day. The above photo shows part of a poster that is prominently displayed on the window of my local pharmacy. The poster is obviously aimed at smokers who want to give up the dreaded weed and it should, in fact, say “It’s Arrived” or, to be more correct, “They’ve arrived”. This particular pharmacy is not a small family-run business, though it is a family-run independent chain that owns twenty pharmacies throughout Ireland. The Limerick branch is the only one that’s situated on the western part of the country, though I’m sure that the poster can also be seen at the remainder of their stores along the eastern coast. The company’s website could do with a bit of a makeover as well and there’s even some confusion there about whether the name of the company should have an apostrophe or not

Now, you wouldn’t expect to find the good old Irish Times making such elementary errors, would you? Well, I was laying in bed the other morning when I opened the Irish Times app on my phone to check out the day’s news. The first story to catch my eye concerned Irish golfer Paul Harrington getting turfed out of some tournament for a breach of the rules. I never read stories about golf as I don’t really consider it to be a sport, but I’m quite a fan of the various ways that sportspeople (and golfers) try to manipulate the laws of the game. So, I read the article and was disappointed to find that Harrington had merely brushed his hand against the golf ball as he lined it up and the ball moved ever so slightly forward and slightly back. Harrington played on and turned his card in, but a viewer with even more time on his hands than me contacted the officials to inform them of Harrington’s misdemeanour. Next day, the officials told the Irishman that he should have given himself a two-stoke penalty and, as he didn’t, they disqualified him! I’d hate to think what they’d have done if he’d removed his shirt at a climactic moment or rushed into the crowd to celebrate at the final hole. As I continued to read the story, my disappointment turned to despair as I counted a below par four punctuation errors in the article. I thought perhaps it may have been a bug on the app, so I checked the story out online. My despair turned to despondency as the four errors were repeated on their website, as highlighted below

The article was unattributed, so I searched online and found that it had been published earlier that morning by the Reuters news agency. The Irish Times had merely copied it verbatim and reproduced it without proofreading it. Loads of other sources did the same, but at least Yahoo! News put in the missing apostrophes in their version. I decided to do a search on the web for “irish times bad grammar” and was delighted to come across a rather wonderful site called Broadsheet.ie. The site makes fun of Irish media and culture and is updated four times an hour during business hours (They have an app as well). It seems that my discovery of those four errors in the article above is not an isolated case and you can find loads more here. The editors of the famous newspaper’s website must be fairly busy because they haven’t even fixed the mistakes that Broadsheet.ie has highlighted. Of course, I’ll keep on reading the Irish Times, but I’m delighted to have found a new site to check out daily. Broadsheet.ie tells it like it is and that was also the advice that soul singer Bettye Swann offered on her strangely titled album, The Soul View Now! (1968). The Boy Least Likely To is the name of an English duo who have been going for nearly a decade. Every Goliath Has Its David is taken from their second album, Law of the Playground (2009), and is a fine song about little guys standing up to bigger ones. Finally, Metric from Canada take It’s a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys and turn it into a nice acoustic number. Each of these songs uses the correct forms forms of its, it’s and it is and are dedicated to proofreaders everywhere

UPDATE: At least someone at the Irish Times is paying attention. The paper’s film writer Donald Clarke has correctly pointed out that Paul Harrington is not the golfer’s first name. It is, of course, Pádraig. Well, I did say that I’m not a big golf fan

Tell It Like It Is – Bettye Swann

Every Goliath Has Its David – The Boy Least Likely To

It’s A Sin (Pet Shop Boys Cover) – Metric

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