This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Two long students: a rant.

As life goes faster we rely more and more on subs.

No, not in this case the sort of sub that's a submarine, nor the sort that's a large filled bread roll, a subscription, a substitute, or an instruction in music to do something suddenly, but the sort that should really be called a subeditor.

What do they do? Well, they're supposed to correct the journalists' spelling and grammar, for one thing, but they also write headlines.

Have you ever been lured to read an article by a headline promising a juicy scandal, only to find the piece is actually about the ridiculously high price of oranges? That'll be down to a subeditor.

Now I come to think about it, as a job it must be a lot of fun.

The thing is, even when a sub is doing his best, it's not easy to cut an article down to just a few words. The famous Daily Express headline Air pollution now leading cause of lung cancer didn't actually head an article saying anything of the sort. Smoking, for instance, is far more important as a cause of lung cancer. What the article actually said was that air pollution is the leading environmental cause of lung cancer: but presumably environmental was too long to fit in a headline.

Does this matter? Well, yes, it does, because the research shows that even if people read the article then what they tend to remember is the headline. People read the piece to confirm the headline, not to discover what the article says.

Scary, isn't it?

Anyway, I saw this headline in The Telegraph Online of 10 December 2017:

For two long students have been locked into three year degrees when many of them would like to go faster.

It seems that we can't really trust the subs even with the spelling and grammar thing.

Still, I rather can;t help feeling sorry for those two long students.

Word To Use Today: sub. Words beginning with sub are usually to do with the Latin sub meaning under.

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