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CynicCure
708181.  Tue May 11, 2010 1:12 pm Reply with quote

I love books, but I dislike mistakes and oversights. Whilst reading a book I frequently keep a tally of all the typographical errors I find in it. (I know - I should get out more.) Your book, the QI Book of the Dead, while being an absolutely fascinating read, is by far and away the worst offender I have found in a long time. You, your publishers, John Lloyd, the elves, whoever should really have done a better job proof-reading. Should you need a list of page numbers where I have found errors (all 48 of them), I should be happy to oblige.

Sorry not to be interesting - quite, or otherwise - but you do say towards the end of the book (p. 418) to let you know if we find any errors... and I found 48!

 
bobwilson
708314.  Tue May 11, 2010 4:24 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
I should be happy to oblige.

I think you mean "I will be happy to oblige" ;)

 
suze
708340.  Tue May 11, 2010 5:32 pm Reply with quote

I don't suppose he did! The construction that CynicCure used is perhaps a little old fashioned, but by no means is it wrong.

By now, we tend to regard shall/should and will/would as practically interchangeable, but there are still plenty who consider that will/would are never to be used in the first person. (I shall, you will, he/she will.)

Few would use it in speech, but constructions such as "I should be obliged if ..." are still found in some kinds of business correspondence.

On the actual point, CynicCure is not the first person to have noted that QI Books have sometimes contained more typos than they really ought; I too have made that observation, and I wasn't the first either.

 
bobwilson
708342.  Tue May 11, 2010 5:40 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Few would use it in speech, but constructions such as "I should be obliged if ..." are still found in some kinds of business correspondence.

Just because others have made the same mistake is no excuse - as a certain Mr F once commented.

Should - to me - means ought to. I should have...

In the construction "I should be happy to oblige" it conveys the impression that the person ought to be happy in the act of obliging - but says nothing about whether he will or won't oblige.

The main purpose of business correspondence (as distinct from contracts) is obscurantism - the main purpose of language is clarity.

 
Spud McLaren
708382.  Tue May 11, 2010 8:30 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
I don't suppose he did! The construction that CynicCure used is perhaps a little old fashioned, but by no means is it wrong.
Well, I'm 52 but I never considered myself old fashioned (he lied cheerfully) in using shall to mean some measure of compulsion, but will where there's a measure of..er, will - or wish - to get something done.

Inevitably, there's a contradictory Wiki entry, the nub of which is
The most influential proponent of the distinction was John Wallis, whose 1653 Grammatica Linguae Anglicanae stated "The rule is... to express a future event without emotional overtones, one should say I shall, we shall, but you/he/she/they will; conversely, for emphasis, willfulness, or insistence, one should say I/we will, but you/he/she/they shall".

 
bobwilson
708385.  Tue May 11, 2010 8:46 pm Reply with quote

The very fact of this discussion proves my point.

Language is meant to communicate meaning. If Cynicure meant that he would provide details then the proper construction would have been to state "I will" (or perhaps "I shall"}. Under no circumstances is the construction "I should be happy to oblige" clear in its' meaning.

 
Spud McLaren
708387.  Tue May 11, 2010 8:52 pm Reply with quote

Well, I got the gist. I didn't take it to mean, for instance, "Should you need a list of page numbers where I have found errors, you can sod off and find them for yourselves.".

 
bobwilson
708389.  Tue May 11, 2010 8:58 pm Reply with quote

Bugger spud - you've hoisted me by my own petard. It's still wrong though. ;)

 
CynicCure
708494.  Wed May 12, 2010 7:13 am Reply with quote

Thank you everyone for your erudite discussion on this nice grammatical point. Just to let you know, I personally make no claims for grammatical perfection on my own part, and I will be/shall be/am happy to be corrected by more knowledgeable souls.

But (going back to my original point) there are some really basic errors in the book - for instance spelling a name one way on one page and a different way on another, omitting a full stop at the end of a sentence, sentences that make no sense - which the humblest of proof-readers should be able to spot.

(And thanks suze for backing me up on this.)

 
CynicCure
708498.  Wed May 12, 2010 7:32 am Reply with quote

PS I can spot an erroneous apostrophe when I see one... bobwilson, May 12, 2010 2:46 am, last word but one.

 
soup
708507.  Wed May 12, 2010 7:44 am Reply with quote

Oh no, its the apostrophe police.

Semi etc.

 
suze
708567.  Wed May 12, 2010 10:39 am Reply with quote

CynicCure, I'm afraid that these forums spend longer than strictly necessary criticising the grammar and syntax of posts made to them!

As for your actual point, I'll wave it at the next Elf I see on my travels. They're rather tied up recording the next series of the TV show right now, but when they have a bit more time I shall chastise them severely.

(I don't know whether or not a revised printing of BOTD is scheduled. But at such time as it is, I dare say they'll ask for your list of corrections.)

 
Alfred E Neuman
708635.  Wed May 12, 2010 2:19 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
CynicCure, I'm afraid that these forums spend longer than strictly necessary criticising the grammar and syntax of posts made to them!


Given the fact that people are still making mistakes, it could be argued that we don't spend enough time correcting them :-)

 
MoragG
795908.  Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:33 am Reply with quote

I have to say, I was horrified when I opened this book to find a glaring typo in the very first sentence of the Prologue. May and many are two very different words.

Had I glanced at the Prologue before buying the book, I would not have bought it. Nonetheless, with the knowledge that I have 47 other typos to look forward to (thank you for preparing me in advance, CynicCure, so I can manage my disappointment), I am looking forward to reading this book.

It does seem strange to me that a programme devoted to accuracy and tiny facts should have a reputation for making typos in their books.

 
Arcane
795935.  Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:19 am Reply with quote

MoragG wrote:
I have to say, I was horrified when I opened this book to find a glaring typo in the very first sentence of the Prologue. May and many are two very different words.

Had I glanced at the Prologue before buying the book, I would not have bought it. Nonetheless, with the knowledge that I have 47 other typos to look forward to (thank you for preparing me in advance, CynicCure, so I can manage my disappointment), I am looking forward to reading this book.

It does seem strange to me that a programme devoted to accuracy and tiny facts should have a reputation for making typos in their books.


Have you considered that that is down to the printers, not the persons who wrote the book?

If I got huffy and refused to buy a book every time I saw a typo, I'd have a very sparse bookshelf.

 

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