Sunday, 31 January 2010

Call me pedantic, but ...

Y'know those Google ads that pop up next to your mail? I saw one yesterday advertising a bit of equipment operated by a 'foot pedal'. Is it the teacher in me or what? But that really grated ... foot pedal, is there any other sort of pedal?
If it wasn't foot operated, it wouldn't be a pedal, would it? And if it's a pedal then the word 'foot' is tautological and is superfluous. Why do people feel the need to qualify the word pedal, but not handle? If you said to someone 'Oh, turn this hand handle' they'd look at you as if you were a bit simple - but for some reason the term foot pedal is quite common. I'm waiting to see a cunning bit of machinery operated via a hand pedal...
And, while I'm at it, whatever happened to 'fewer'? Fewer seems to have been universally replaced by 'less'. Statements like, 'There are less people here than usual' are quite commonplace; I've heard BBC reporters saying it. Do they not know any better? Well, of course they do - they know they should say 'fewer people' rather than 'less people'. So why do they do it; laziness, after all 'less' has one FEWER syllables? Or is it dumbing down in a patronising way to the illiterate masses? Apparently the Beeb has made a corporate decision to dispense with the plural 'referenda' and use 'referendums' instead. Is this another example of dumbing down for the masses? Or am I just being a reactionary old fart? (No, don't bother replying). After all, we all seem to be quite happy to say 'data is' when we mean 'data are'. The singular 'datum' has fallen into disuse and 'data' has gone the way of 'sheep' i.e it is used both for the singular and plural.
Oh, and don't get me started on the Grocer's apostrophe!

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