The linguistic standard of The Hindu hits a new bottom


When I was in school, I had some great english teachers. People with more than just a simple commitment to preparing the kids well enough for the 10th boards. People with a real passion for the language who went to great lenths to make us understand its subtleties and possibilities.

Their instinct for the language and the accuracy and consistency of their work was always an inspiration for me. When I was in school, I learned that I had a soft-corner for the written word and that the only way I could really learn a language was by reading stuff written in it. Listening didn’t help me that much. Why that should be the case… I am yet to figure out. When I conveyed this feeling of mine to  a teacher she told me that the best way to learn how to write without grammar mistakes(which for some hard-to-fathom reason seemed like an incredibly important thing to me at the time) was to consistently read The Hindu. Especially the editorial section.

This advice was repeated to me over the years by all my subsequent teachers and even the Principals who headed the school during my last years there.

I used to follow that advice with great zeal and I always found the clinical precision, character and quality of the language to be deeply comforting to my somewhat needlessly sensitive passion for the language.

Also, apart from the language I also used to think that the content of The Hindu was a cut above the rest. But, of late I have noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of the editing and it was deeply unsettling to me. It was till now the only english language daily I knew of which I could count on to be correct. In school, I even used to use sentences in The Hindu to argue about usages with my friends. Everyone trusted it to be correct.

Today, I read a report that was so chock full of mistakes that it was hard for me to not take note of it. I think I have to spend a few moments to bemoan the loss of a ready standard against which I could sharpen my fallible linguistic abilities everyday.

Here is the report I read –

Yet another bunch of innocent lives — “Bunch” is an unbecoming way of conveying an idea of the number of lives that have been lost.

has been snuffed out — Again, a rather crude usage that conflicts with the tradition of dignified english that the paper is famous for.

on the highways in Karur district courtesy — This is the first time I have seen the word “courtesy” used in a context like this. The author obviously doesn’t think that what happened was something that would make someone deserving of “courtesy”. Was this then an attempt at sarcasm? Isn’t it a little insensitive to resort to such rhetorical devices in a piece conveying such tragic news,

some unscrupulous road users who extended their long arm beyond the pale of law. — This is where things start to really fall apart. Seldom have I seen such a confused deployment of idioms resulting in a sentence that can actually make one wince. “The long arm… ” is generally used to allude to the reach of law. Here it has somehow gotten mixed up with carelessness and criminal disregard of law and wound up on the other side of the fence vis-à-vis “the Law”.

Social activists have called for a revisit of the road safety rules, especially those governing extended vehicles that are termed “Articulated Vehicles” — “which” should have been used instead of “that”. The reason for this is rather subtle. When “that” is used, it gives the feeling that the road safety rules in question concern only those extended vehicles which are termed “Articulated Vehicles”. But, from the context, I think, what the author meant is that the rules concern all extended vehicles, which are collectively called Articulated Vehicles by the Transport Department. Of course, one can argue that since the meaning is clear from the context, semantic consistency to such a high degree should not be insisted upon. While this is arguable, what I feel is that a newspaper that boasts of the kind of pedigree that the Hindu has should pay attention even to such subtle details.

I know that my explanation sucks. Those willing to pursue it more can try reading about non-restrictive relative clauses and how they ought to be inserted.

in Transport Department parlance.

Sources told The Hindu that Thursday’s accident occurred when an articulated vehicle suddenly veered to the left side of the highway near Tadakoil on the Karur-Madurai section of NH 7 when its extended tail carrying the leaf of

the wind mill — “a wind mill”.

came in the way of the private bus trailing the carrier.

Five passengers of the bus were killed in the accident that also saw more than a dozen getting injured. — “get injured”.

The leaf simply sliced through the left side of the bus hitting all those who were seated on that side.

Activists have called upon the State government and the Transport Department in particular to regulate operation of such class of vehicles. — It should either be “classes” or “this class”. Also “the” should be there before “operation”. It just keeps getting worse…

“We wonder whether there exists any set of laws governing the possession and operation of such huge vehicles that have a potential — “the potential”. “A” is used mostly when “potential” is used as an adjective.

to endanger other road users,” says S. Gopalan, Chairman, Consumer Protection Council, and member of the District Road Safety Advisory Council.

In pointing out that the Transport Department officials must implement road rules freely without any influence, Mr. Gopalan packs a punch as many such articulated vehicles are owned by influential fleet operators meaning any slapping of charge on them for violations is met with a mobile response from powers that be to leave them alone. — This sentence is so damaged that it would be understandable if some people refused to attempt to make sense of it. Starting from the first word(“In” instead of “while”) this sentence is an affront to the english language. What is really sad is that the sentence is wrong not merely because it fails to convey a simple message using simple words. The degree of the abomination that the sentence is is aggravated by the inopportune and inexpert deployment of phrases like “packs a punch” and “THE powers that be”.

Those articulated vehicles, like many multi-axle trailers and hazardous vehicles, are on the prowl on the highways sans most of the prescribed guidelines or safety norms. — “on the prowl”? Really? When words like “sans” are used in a report that simply reeks of linguistic inepitude it does very little to improve the article.

While the sanctioned length is 18 metres, the operators invariably extended the tail to carry the payload violating law straightaway. — Never seen such a twisted sentence before in The Hindu. Why didn’t they simply write, “Operators routinely extend the vehicles beyond the sanctioned length of 18 m to carry extra payload thus violating the law.”?

Sometimes, they get exemption from States such as Maharashtra and ply here much to the chagrin of Transport Department officials here.

They must be operated only with escorts and pilots, get permission from local authorities such as highway and municipalities for travel in the region and most importantly must be on the road only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. They must submit a fixed route chart clearly mentioning the stops, fuel refilling, maintenance halts and so on, sources in the Transport Department say. Those things are never ever done by the operators who care two hoots for public safety.

Experienced drivers for manning the articulated vehicles is a must and is borne out by the fact that the driver of the vehicle involved in Karur accident Neeraj Kumar is 22. Many fleet operators in Tamil Nadu would hesitate to give such vehicles to people of his age.

Most importantly the rules must be ensured even as the articulated vehicles enter the State, says Mr. Gopalan to minimise chance of road danger due to them. He hopes the accident serves as a wake up call to implement the much-needed road safety norms.

— Just too many mistakes to point out!

This article merely served to confirm my long standing suspicion of editorial paralysis at The Hindu. This is really sad. All that is required to report a sad news like this is simple language devoid of literary contrivances. In fact, that is the way it should be reported. When bumbling attempts at an appearance of linguistic virtuosity are made at the expense of the gravity of the news, it does nothing but provoke revulsion in the readers. Recently, I have been noting that words are being skipped and a lot of obvious mistakes are being made even in articles by good journalists and authors. This points to a lack of care and attention to detail on the part of the paper.

It is sad to note that one of the few papers that have some content is witnessing such a precipitous fall in the quality of its language.

I hope that the trend is reversed so that the language is once again keeping in line with the reputation for quality and precision that The Hindu has built up over the years.

P.S. It is quite possible that what I wrote contains a lot of mistakes. But, I don’t think that that should prevent one from responding to the obvious fall in quality of the language used by The Hindu.

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4 thoughts on “The linguistic standard of The Hindu hits a new bottom

  1. I, too, have always held The Hindu in high regard and the heading of your article piqued my interest immediately. However, I did not feel that some of the mistakes you pointed out where, in fact, mistakes. I’ll try to explain why to the best of my ability.

    “Yet another bunch of innocent lives — “Bunch” is an unbecoming way of conveying an idea of the number of lives that have been lost.”

    “Bunch” is used to convey a large number of things. That is true. But, that’s not the only usage. Bunch also means “a group of people” and “a group of similar things”. I don’t think it was used to convey quantity here. But used as a collective noun.

    “has been snuffed out — Again, a rather crude usage that conflicts with the tradition of dignified english that the paper is famous for.”

    Again, I feel you have misunderstood the intent here. “Snuff” (put an end to something in a brutal manner) would indicate the brutality of how the lives ended which is quite fair considering how it did happen.

    “some unscrupulous — I think “Careless” would have done the job. “Unscrupulous” seems so strangely out-of-place in this situation. The driver was obviously just doing what he was told to do. The accusations of dishonesty should be directed at the transport company. The driver was just negligent, maybe even criminally so.”

    I’m on the fence on this one. Would careless really have done the job? I think by using the word ‘unscrupulous’, the writer intends to convey the lack of regard of another man’s life. Accidents such as this are very common. Rare occurrences could be attributed to carelessness. When such incidents happen frequently, it’s not being careless anymore. It’s a disregard for the law and, even worse, for another man’s life knowing that you’ll be let off the hook and thus developing a sense that one is above the law (I think this would explain the next error you mentioned 🙂 ).

    “Social activists have called for a revisit of the road safety rules, especially those governing extended vehicles that are termed “Articulated Vehicles”— “which” should have been used instead of “that”.”

    Actually “that” is correctly used in this sentence. Not all extended vehicles come under the “Articulated Vehicles” category.
    “articulated vehicle” means a motor vehicle to which a semitrailer is attached – this statement is taken directly from the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

    “Sources told The Hindu that Thursday’s accident — “the” is missing. I don’t know how they managed to make this mistake.”

    I don’t know where you feel the ‘the’ should be inserted. I assume you mean it should be inserted before ‘Sources’ which would be wrong. ‘The’ would have been inserted if these “sources” were talked about before in the news article or if they were of common knowledge or if they were unique somehow. But, they are, as the article mentions, just sources or random people who told The Hindu about the incidents leading up to the accident.

    “occurred when an articulated vehicle suddenly veered to the left side of the highway near Tadakoil on the Karur-Madurai section of NH 7 when its extended tail carrying the leaf of the wind mill — “a wind mill”.”

    Agreed!

    “Five passengers of the bus were killed in the accident that also saw more than a dozen getting injured. — “get injured”.”

    I feel “getting injured” is right here. ‘…the accident [b]saw[\b] more than a dozen [b]getting injured[\b]’. I think the meaning changes slightly when you use “get injured”. Get injured would convey a single injury while getting injured would convey multiple injuries. A simpler example of this would be the difference in “I saw him hit the boy” and “I saw him hitting the boy”.

    “Activists have called upon the State government and the Transport Department in particular to regulate operation of such class of vehicles. — It should either be “classes” or “this class”. Also “the” should be there before “operation”. It just keeps getting worse…”

    The usage ‘such class of vehicles’, again, is right here. “Such” would convey something that has been mentioned before. And “Articulated Vehicles” is [b]a class[\b] of vehicles (which was mentioned before in the article).

    ““We wonder whether there exists any set of laws governing the possession and operation of such huge vehicles that have a potential — “the potential”. “A” is used mostly when “potential” is used as an adjective.”

    “the” is not required before operation. “The possession and operation” is taken as one entity. If we include a “the” before operation, we would have to make another change in the sentence to get the same meaning i.e “…whether there exists any set of laws governing, both, the possession and [b]the[\b] operation of such huge vehicles…”

    “In pointing out that the Transport Department officials must implement road rules freely without any influence, Mr. Gopalan packs a punch as many such articulated vehicles are owned by influential fleet operators meaning any slapping of charge on them for violations is met with a mobile response from powers that be to leave them alone. — This sentence is so damaged that it would be understandable if some people refused to attempt to make sense of it. Starting from the first word(“In” instead of “while”) this sentence is an affront to the english language. What is really sad is that the sentence is wrong not merely because it fails to convey a simple message using simple words. The degree of the abomination that the sentence is is aggravated by the inopportune and inexpert deployment of phrases like “packs a punch” and “THE powers that be”.”

    Here, I think you have completely misunderstood the sentence (or have not understood it at all). Starting the sentence with “While” would mean the first part of the sentence has no relation to the second when, in fact, it does. The writer is trying to convey that S.Gopalan’s quote hits out (packs a punch) against “influential fleet operators”. According to the writer, S. Gopalan points out that “the Transport Department officials must implement road rules freely without any influence” and by doing so (This is why the sentence starts with ‘In pointing’ and not ‘while pointing’), he “packs a punch”. This is suggested because many of these articulated vehicles are owned by influential owners and slapping any charge on them for violations is met with a mobile response from powers (higher authorities – no unique department mentioned and so “the” is not required. It just means someone with power to overrule the charge) that be to leave them alone (meaning the mobile response is to leave them alone.)

    Anyway, these are my responses to each of your points. If you find any fault with them, please do point them out and an explanation would be welcome. I’m sure it’ll only help me in improving my understanding of the language. Excellent article, nonetheless and continue writing. My only suggestion would be try and use simpler words too. Mix it up. Some sentences gave me the feeling that you used a thesaurus on every word in the sentence 😛 Also, refrain from using the word “sucks”. Ever!

    • First and foremost thanks for the comment! Now onto the points you have raised. I am dealing with the easier ones first…
      1.”“Bunch” is used to convey a large number of things. That is true. But, that’s not the only usage. Bunch also means “a group of people” and “a group of similar things”. I don’t think it was used to convey quantity here. But used as a collective noun.”

      You seem to have latched onto a completely different point from the one I have raised. Everyone who read my article understood that “bunch” was used to refer to the group of people who perished in the accident. I didn’t assume that “bunch” was used to mean “a large number of things” or for that matter ” a large number of ” anything. Actually, no one who has any understanding of english will do that. When you said that “bunch” was not used to convey quantity here, you are correct. No one ever said that! The point that you have purposefully missed to appreciate is that “bunch” is not a respectful word to use when trying to refer to a group of people who have passed away. That was the main point of my criticism. For example, you don’t say, “A bunch of kids died today.”. The sentence is correct grammatically. But, it is very crude. Maybe, you failed to appreciate fully what “unbecoming” means… ? It does not mean wrong, it means “not dignified enough”.

      2. “has been snuffed out — Again, a rather crude usage that conflicts with the tradition of dignified english that the paper is famous for.”
      Again, I feel you have misunderstood the intent here. “Snuff” (put an end to something in a brutal manner) would indicate the brutality of how the lives ended which is quite fair considering how it did happen.

      Again, thanks for your concern. But, no one mistook “snuffed out” to mean anything else other than what you said. It is again, gramatically correct. Maybe you misunderstood the word “crude” this time. Does it mean “Wrong”? No! When you say that a bunch of people got snuffed out it tends to strike some people as a little crude. In the case of “bunch”, this feeling is clearly justified. When it comes to “snuffed out” it is more the combination that tends to strike one as a little unsophisticated.

      3.“Social activists have called for a revisit of the road safety rules, especially those governing extended vehicles that are termed “Articulated Vehicles”— “which” should have been used instead of “that”.”
      Actually “that” is correctly used in this sentence. Not all extended vehicles come under the “Articulated Vehicles” category.
      “articulated vehicle” means a motor vehicle to which a semitrailer is attached – this statement is taken directly from the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

      First and foremost, this statement is not “taken directly” from the Motor Vehicles Act. Actually, no statement has been taken from the Motor Vehicles Act. I fail to see what made you say that. Are we looking at different editions? The definition of extended vehicles that require special rules, the technical term for them and the actual rules are mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act. Apart from the technical term for such vehicles nothing was obtained from the MVA. Even the sentence containing the technical term wasn’t quoted directly. At best it was a paraphrased version of some definition. One is entitled to one’s own opinions, but not one’s version of facts, right?
      Next, “extended vehicles” is a term without a clear definition. But, in the context what it meant is absolutely clear. So, the fact that the ones having special rules regulating them are referred to as “Articulated Vehicles” in the MVA is an extra piece of info that can be safely omitted without affecting the meaning of the sentence. For example, you could just say that,” … especially those governing extended vehicles.” and leave it at that. When you choose to provide further information then there should be a comma and “which” should be used. This is a very small mistake and some would even say that it is not really a mistake. But, I felt like mentioning it anyway.

      4. ““Sources told The Hindu that Thursday’s accident — “the” is missing. I don’t know how they managed to make this mistake.”
      I don’t know where you feel the ‘the’ should be inserted. I assume you mean it should be inserted before ‘Sources’ which would be wrong. ‘The’ would have been inserted if these “sources” were talked about before in the news article or if they were of common knowledge or if they were unique somehow. But, they are, as the article mentions, just sources or random people who told The Hindu about the incidents leading up to the accident.”

      Here unfortunately, you went from saying that there is a certain lack of clarity to making wrong assumptions to finally giving advice which I hate to say is just pointless and embarrassingly obvious. Here is the critical piece of information that would have prevented this from happening. The “the” should have been used before “Thursday’s accident” which you will agree “were talked about before in the news article or …. were of common knowledge or …… were unique somehow.” 🙂 Really, you should be a little more careful….
      I can give tonnes of reasons why THE accident needs “the” before it. But, I think that now it is going to be rather superfluous.

      5. “occurred when an articulated vehicle suddenly veered to the left side of the highway near Tadakoil on the Karur-Madurai section of NH 7 when its extended tail carrying the leaf of the wind mill — “a wind mill”.”

      Agreed!
      Thank you!

      6.”“Activists have called upon the State government and the Transport Department in particular to regulate operation of such class of vehicles. — It should either be “classes” or “this class”. Also “the” should be there before “operation”. It just keeps getting worse…”
      The usage ‘such class of vehicles’, again, is right here. “Such” would convey something that has been mentioned before. And “Articulated Vehicles” is [b]a class[\b] of vehicles (which was mentioned before in the article).”

      It is sad to see you arguing for bad grammar. No one is arguing that “such” shouldn’t be used there. Just that it should be followed by “classes”. It would of course be more appropriate if “this class” was used as it fits in better with the context as you have described it. I will explain why “class” is wrong there. You don’t say “such guy or such car or such class or etc. etc.”. It should always be “such guys, such girls, such classes or such A … guy/girl/car etc.”. You get it? Again, you succeeded in completely missing my point. I didn’t explain it in any detail because I thought that the usage of “such” was pretty familiar to everyone. Also, in case you missed it, it should have been, “THE operation of THIS class ….”. One more “the” missing! 🙂

      7. ““We wonder whether there exists any set of laws governing the possession and operation of such huge vehicles that have a potential — “the potential”. “A” is used mostly when “potential” is used as an adjective.”
      “the” is not required before operation. “The possession and operation” is taken as one entity. If we include a “the” before operation, we would have to make another change in the sentence to get the same meaning i.e “…whether there exists any set of laws governing, both, the possession and [b]the[\b] operation of such huge vehicles…”

      This is just becoming repetitive…. I don’t how you managed to confuse yourself this badly… again! I even indicated where the “the” ought to have been inserted. It should have been before “potential”, in place of the “a”. I completely agree with your graciously offered explanation. But, fail to see how it justifies your assertion or even why you had to give it in the first place.
      Just to make it doubly clear, I did not say that the “the” should be inserted before “operation”.

      8. “Here, I think you have completely misunderstood the sentence (or have not understood it at all). Starting the sentence with “While” would mean the first part of the sentence has no relation to the second when, in fact, it does. The writer is trying to convey that S.Gopalan’s quote hits out (packs a punch) against “influential fleet operators”. According to the writer, S. Gopalan points out that “the Transport Department officials must implement road rules freely without any influence” and by doing so (This is why the sentence starts with ‘In pointing’ and not ‘while pointing’), he “packs a punch”. This is suggested because many of these articulated vehicles are owned by influential owners and slapping any charge on them for violations is met with a mobile response from powers (higher authorities – no unique department mentioned and so “the” is not required. It just means someone with power to overrule the charge) that be to leave them alone (meaning the mobile response is to leave them alone.)”

      Well, by now, your attempts at conveying your sympathy for my lack of understanding seem a little laughable. But, I will just point out a couple of things. “Pack a punch” does not mean “hits out”. It is used to indicate the potential for hitting out VERY HARD in someone or something. Using “while” doesn’t mean that that part of the sentence is unrelated to whatever follows it. I don’t know where you got that idea from. Among its other uses it is also used to qualify statements and to indicate concurrency.
      Now, moving on to the remaining factual errors…. You say that according to you the article meant that S.Gopalan’s “quote”(see how this is missing from the actual para? Nevertheless “packs a punch” is still wrong. We will see in a moment why.) “hits out” at the fleet operators. I agree with you on that. But, sadly, “packs a punch” does not mean the same thing. I see that you have made the same error in understanding the idiom as the author of the article.
      The sentence does not give any evidence for why S.Gopalan or his quote is a potent threat to the “influential operators”. It actually tries to undermine any implied potency even further by going on to state that the operators have the backing of the higher authorities. Given this context and the correct meaning of the phrase, don’t you think that it has been misused in this sentence?
      The root of the problem(the problem being your understanding of “packs a punch”) is that you think to pack a punch means to hit out. But, that is clearly not the case. You can refer to any dictionary of idioms to see why this is wrong. The phrase is used to indicate that something has the potential to do real damage. When you consider the real meaning, the sentence then seems kind of funny. Why would his quote “pack a punch” if the people who matter are very powerful?
      Neither “In” nor “while” will be strictly speaking, correct if people were to depend upon your definition of the phrase. I will try and reconstruct the sentence to see how it could read if written without the benefit of misunderstood idioms.
      “While saying that the police should be allowed to freely enforce the rules, S.Gopalan also explained why this kind of ideal enforcement is not happening right now. He thinks that the powers that be, won’t allow petty rules to come in the way of their profits”.
      See? This is a very rough version. But, it is clear that nothing that has got anything to do with S.Gopalan really packs a punch. It also demonstrates one more thing.
      “higher authorities – no unique department mentioned and so “the” is not required. It just means someone with power to overrule the charge”
      The “the” is actually required because just like you mentioned only those people with the “power to overrule the charge” are being referred to here. Wherever you use the idiom, you are never referring to “powers” in general. That would be just silly, simply because there are a whole range and variety of powers in this universe, most of which are not even relevant to the discussion. You will never see “powers that be” used without “the” in any respected publication anywhere in the world.

      10. “My only suggestion would be try and use simpler words too. Mix it up. Some sentences gave me the feeling that you used a thesaurus on every word in the sentence 😛 Also, refrain from using the word “sucks”. Ever!”
      Anyone who has ever seen me writing will know that I never use anything except spell check and google to verify that the words and phrases that I am using are being inserted in the correct context. If you feel that some of the words are being used wrongly or that they are not necessary to convey the meaning of what I wanted to say you are free to point them out. As for the last piece of advice, frankly speaking, I think that it sucks! Simply because I am not a national daily with a reputation to guard and also “sucks” is a rather easy word to manage and seldom leads to the kind of ambiguity that every guy who wants to communicate as clearly as possible wants to avoid.

      PS. Your point about “unscrupulous” being the right word to describe the drivers on Indian roads is worth some debate. But, right now I don’t think I want to go into it. If you feel that you still need to discuss it we can do it after you are done reading whatever I have written. Right now, I need to rest my hands!
      Also, I feel that you won’t have trouble agreeing with me on the fact that this article is not in keeping with the standards of The Hindu that we have been used to.

  2. Thanks for the reply. Here are my responses.

    1. “You seem to have latched onto a completely different point from the one I have raised. Everyone who read my article understood that “bunch” was used to refer to the group of people who perished in the accident.”

    My misunderstanding arose from the explantation you gave. “Yet another bunch of innocent lives — “Bunch” is an unbecoming way of conveying an idea of the number of lives that have been lost.” The part “…conveying an idea of the NUMBER OF LIVES that have been lost.” was the reason for the confusion. If you had written “”Bunch” is an unbecoming way of referring to the lives that have been lost”, it would have been much clearer.

    2. I haven’t said that you were wrong. “snuff out” is a phrase used to say someone died (irrespective of the manner of death) in a crude manner. But, my reasoning behind the usage was that the accident was indeed brutal and the term could be said to be used fairly in this context.

    3. I agree with you on this one. I was misinformed about extended vehicles. I was under the impression that extended vehicles was another term for heavy vehicles and “articulated vehicles” being a type of heavy vehicle. Your original argument stands.

    4. My assumption was based on my belief that Sabu Paul wouldn’t suggest inserting a “the” before of a proper noun (Thursday). That would be liking saying “THE Sabu’s apple”. “THE apple” is correct but “THE Sabu’s apple” is not. Similarly, “THE accident” is correct but “THE Thursday’s accident” is not.

    6. My bad. I was suggesting (or should have been suggesting) that it should be “such a class”. Anyway, this was based on point #3 and therefore meaningless now.

    7. I have no idea how this got in there. I guess I should proofread my comments better. I thought I erased this point. Just ended up making an ass out of myself.

    8. On a second reading of the sentence, I have to agree with you. I had misunderstood the sentence. Which was your original point 😛 (the joke is in the irony of it. Didn’t mean your original point was a joke.)

    9. 8 is followed by 9, not 10. 😀

    10. The emoji “:P” would denote that I was joking. What I meant was that I felt you use too many complex words and that at times it is better to use simpler words. I didn’t suggest that you literally used a thesaurus for every word. And the usage of the term “sucks” in your writing is completely up to you. I enjoyed your article and since the first few paras were about your “passion for the language”, I felt you would understand why I suggested you refrain from using the term “sucks”. Anyway, I’m not going to dwell on that. They were merely suggestions from a reader and should be taken as such and not as personal insults.

    On the standard of The Hindu, I agree with you. Even though I wrote points supporting the writer, reading the article under review got me really irritated. I also have a strong dislike for their new template. I feel they are going the way of TOI. I didn’t care about the template and the ads as long as the content remained the same. But, I guess it’s only a matter of time before we have no decent dailies left.

    • Sorry for the later reply. I will just say a couple of things more.
      4. Using “the” before proper nouns is not wrong. At least not always. In cases where there are several possibilities and you want to refer to one of them you can use “the” to particularize the noun. In this case, there were several Thursday’s preceding the report and on the same day it was quite possible that there were several accidents. So, using “the” wouldn’t have been wrong. The example you have given is correct. But that doesn’t apply directly here. For example, if I wanted to say that I visited a McDonald’s near me, I would put it like this. “I went down to THE McDonalds in BTP and got myself a burger.”. You can also use “the” to signify superiority or extraordinary characteristics in the entity referred to by the noun. If I take your own example… I could of course refer to myself as The Sabu and my things as The Sabu’s things. But, that would be incredibly vain of me as it would mean that I am in some way unique or extraordinary. But, the important thing to keep in mind is that it wouldn’t be really wrong.
      Here is another example that people are more likely to have come across. “The Thursday’s events proved to be pivotal in the race for the Presidency”. Having said that the “the” is required there I am now a little doubtful about its importance relative to the more egregious mistakes peppering the article. I am not even sure that that is really an error. So, to prevent it from distracting people from the last few paras which are the ones that are really rotten, I removed that line from the original article.
      One more small point.

      “Five passengers of the bus were killed in the accident that also saw more than a dozen getting injured. — “get injured”.”
      I feel “getting injured” is right here. ‘…the accident [b]saw[\b] more than a dozen [b]getting injured[\b]‘. I think the meaning changes slightly when you use “get injured”. Get injured would convey a single injury while getting injured would convey multiple injuries. A simpler example of this would be the difference in “I saw him hit the boy” and “I saw him hitting the boy”.

      The use of “get” or “getting” is not determined by the number of people who got injured or the number of injuries. It depends on how long the process lasted. The accident was a suddent event and the injuries happened concurrently with it. If someone slowly set about hurting a number of people then you could say that someone took note of them “getting injured”. If it was a suddent event that caused the injuries(for example, a fall?) then you just say that you saw them “get injured” regardless of the number of people or injuries. Accidents are understood to be sudden events, especially automobile accidents. This also helps explain your example. If hitting the boy was not a sudden and clearly demarcated event then “hitting” is used. Else, hit will do just fine.
      I forgot to clarify this in the original reply. But, again, this pales in comparison to the number and magnitude of the mistakes in the last para of the Hindu article. Maybe the point of the article would have been better served if I had just left it out.

      Onto the last thing I wanted to say. The point I wanted to convey through my first 2 paras was that The Hindu was always considered to have flawless language. It is in the light of this fact that the quality of the language used in some of their current articles makes one feel sad.

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