Now I am not one to stand in the way of progress, but recent uses of our language are starting to bother me. Apart from the use of apostrophes, which it seems that most people that have left school in the last few years have any idea of, and various "Americanisations" such as railway station being turned into train station, the one that keeps coming up now is reverse comparisons.
For example, PC Advisor August 2008, page 137, carries a paragraph on Tesco finest A4 printing paper. The mini review concludes with the words "These 50-sheet (why the - ?) Super Glossy packs are especially good value, being two to three times cheaper than equivalent packs from the established brands". What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Taken literally, then "two to three times cheaper" means that if the established brand pack is priced at £10, then surely two times cheaper means that Tesco will actually pay me £10 to take it away - it's 2 x £10 = £20 cheaper after all. Three times cheaper - even better. I could really quite get to like this game!
Now if instead of a reverse comparison such as this, the text were to read "...... especially good value being a third to a half of the cost of equivalent packs from the established brands", or indeed, " established brands cost two to three times as much" then all would make much more sense. Wouldn't it?
to the PCA Institute for correct English useage, of which I am the president and founder member.
That said, it doesn't always do to go nitpicking through what's printed in magazines and newspapers - it leads to hypertension, and we all know what that can do. A degree of tolerance is required when contemplating textual manglings. Throughout history our beautiful language has been subtly adapted to account for the vagaries of the age - there are six known instances of Shakespeare writing his own name, and I seem to remember that he chaged the spelling four times. In his plays he used words nobody had heard before but he got away with it. Various eminent writers have used the language in ways that make purists wince, but life would be pretty dull if everyone was word-perfect. Thankfully it will never happen.
Now come on crosstrainer. Some people don't have a good command of the english language. Be they native or non native to this country it doesn't matter. If all they can do to put their question for help is to use text speech or try their best in the language they're not familiar with then so be it. If you're so perfect then don't reply to such posts then you won't be bothered about them.