Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Misquoted

From cyclingnews.com today:

Di Rocco told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "I'm surprised at McQuaid's comments. First I would say that our process of sporting justice needs to run it's course and now (McQuaid) seems to be speaking for the Spanish investigating judge (in Operacion Puerto)."
I don't care about the content, but look at what cyclingnews.com did: they used the wrong it's. If somebody ever quoted me and made that mistake, I would be furious! It would look as if I didn't know the right word. Incidentally, the site confuses its and it's regularly. This is not an obscure usage rule, nor is it difficult to interpret -- use an apostrophe in the contraction and omit the apostrophe in the possessive pronoun. (Since the Web site is Australian, I verified that misuse is not an Aussie English anomaly -- look here and here.) Cyclingnews.com also mangles sentences with misplaced modifiers and such. Competitor VeloNews isn't any better in that respect, as painfully illustrated by this recent gem of a sentence:
Unlike T-Mobile - which fired star riders Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla after alleged links to Fuentes were disclosed ahead of the Tour - Basso is still part of Team CSC.
A good tactic for checking one's grammar is to remove extraneous words and phrases to see if the basic sentence is correct. Do that here, and you get "Unlike T-Mobile, Basso is still part of Team CSC." But T-Mobile is a team and Basso is an individual, so the sentence is nonsensical -- it implies that T-Mobile was once part of Team CSC. Some of you may be thinking, Well, I can figure out what they meant. But with good grammar, you wouldn't have to "figure out" anything -- it would be as clear as Lance Armstrong's domination of the Tour de France.

Am I wrong to expect cycling journalists to know how to write good sentences? Should I not expect editors of cycling Web sites -- these are for-profit enterprises, not "fan" sites -- to catch common mistakes like its versus it's? Am I the only person who would be really upset about someone using the wrong its/it's when quoting me?

2 comments:

Chris said...

It's an Aussie site, but the contributors are often European-based, and not native English speakers. So blame the editors, who by the way already have plenty to do ... notice that they're hiring!

No excuses, though -- I find it extremely frustrating, and even more so in print versions (such as VeloNews and Cycle Sport) vs. the Web. When I first started reading them, it was quaint -- now it's just annoying.

David Johnsen said...

You're right; I should go easy on the foreign correspondents.

Speaking of quaint, I like how cyclingnews.com often quotes riders, particularly Italians and Spaniards, as having "good sensations." I don't know if it's a translation issue or just their native way of saying "I feel good," but it makes me think of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations!"