A Sight for Sore Eyes for Those on the Tourist Trail

By Rentoul, John | The Independent (London, England), July 17, 2010 | Go to article overview
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A Sight for Sore Eyes for Those on the Tourist Trail


Rentoul, John, The Independent (London, England)


Errors & Omissions

Second site: Our travel supplement last Saturday invited the reader to "take the slow boat from Gothenburg to Stockholm to see the sites". To be fair to the person who wrote that line, the article described castles and a nunnery that are visited on the trip, mostly along the Gta Canal, which could be described as sites, although the word has an archaeological connotation. Roger Hand, who writes to draw my attention to this innovation, wonders whether tourists will eventually become siteseers rather than sightseers.

Look it up: Dominic Lawson is a fine columnist, who uses the richness of the English language to express his trenchant opinions. His article about population control on Tuesday brilliantly exposed the logical flaws of modern Malthusianism. But one sentence went too far for me. He wrote of a population clock on a website, "which ticks away ominously, as each new child is supposititiously born". I don't mind having to look something up in a dictionary if I learn something, but in this case I learn only that a simpler word - supposedly - would have been perfectly adequate. The trouble with "supposititiously" is that one of its meanings, and the more distinctive one, is that of fraudulent substitution; the word supposititious is usually used in the rather specific sense of a child "falsely presented as a genuine heir". I tried to imagine that Lawson meant something by this, but decided that he did not.

Consistent furniture: Terence Blacker is a brilliant columnist too, and his article, also on Tuesday, was a terrific riposte to Zenna Atkins, the head of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, who had foolishly said: "Every school should have a useless teacher." But it described her first as chairman of Ofsted and later as chair. I do not feel strongly about either, but do prefer consistency. The two authorities on this subject, namely the Ofsted website and Atkins's personal website, both use chairman, so that is what it should have been.

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A Sight for Sore Eyes for Those on the Tourist Trail
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