LanguEdge: Common Errors in English newspapers
I subscribe to the Times of India, DNA, Hindustan Times, Economic Times, and Mid-Day, with Mumbai Mirror too landing up as a free sidekick of the TOI. This isn’t at all a discourse on good or bad journalism. Nor is it a look at how different in their action these publications actually are from what the vision their respective managements proclaim drives them. This is just an exchange of views about my perception of correct or incorrect usage of English. Be warned — I’m old-world in that I think the best English is what is [perhaps, was] spoken in South London, the best pronunciation transcription is the phonetic alphabet that’s used in the bible, Daniel Jones’ English Pronunciation Dictionary, and the best dictionary of English today is the Collin’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. And one more thing: no axe to grind here. I’m just picking a story or instance at random, with the humbling thought that even the worst book represents the author’s best effort, on which looms large, the Grammarian’s and the Printer’s respective devils. Nudged, ever gently and persuasively, by a certain Murphy. I’ll tell you that. Ask anyone else too, who’s ever been a sub.
OK, today’s example is from a box on the (Mumbai) Economic Times’ front page:
Under the headline ‘ALL BETS ON RBI RAISING RATES TODAY’ the story says, at one point: “Most are betting on a 25 bps hike in repo and reverse repo rates while few feel that RBI may raise the reverse repo more than the repo rate.”
It should read: “Most are betting on a 25 bps hike in repo and reverse repo rates while a few feel that…” because ‘few’ means none… not one single person, while ‘a few’ will mean ‘some (people)’. As, in ‘He has few enemies’ ‘few’ means he has no enemies, but ‘a few’ would have told us he has ‘some’ enemies. The same is true of the word ‘little’ — ‘he has little time for movies’ (no time for movies) as against ‘a little time’ meaning ‘some time’.
Hope you will have a little time to share other examples. Thanks.