Tuesday, 9 December 2014

FOGgies (pt 2)

(The story so far: the FOGgies are annual awards for outstandingly bad writing. The idea for the name derives from Robert Gunning's FOG index, although these awards don't restrict themselves only to obstacles to readability measured by that index.)

The award for Most Misleading Use of Headlines goes to the Back Heathrow campaign for their outstanding headline:


Autumn 2014 flyer (I could probably find an online version on their website, but that'd make me an accessory after the fact)

The judges said

The multiple layers of misdirection in this headline are easy to overlook – which is what makes it so effective as a piece of propaganda. The use of the infinitive suggests that the expansion is a done deal. The word spell – oddly inappropriate when you think about it – has a subliminal implication of 'correctness'. Here are the first 4 results in a BNC search for spell followed by any adverb:
The most frequent collocation is a bit off-the-wall ,  but its score of 8 (in 5 of which 'spell' is a noun) is easily outweighed by the total of the next three. The word spell has the implication 'Here comes an expression of rightness' (the word 'right' comes 15th – you can run the search by clicking here). Admittedly, BNC is quite a small corpus; it only finds a total of 46 (and nos. 2-4 account for a quarter of those); but none of those is 'spell wrong/erroneously/mistakenly...'. That is not to say the collocation 'spell wrong' is impossible; it's just a good deal less common than 'spell right": Google has nearly 3 times as many "spell right"s ('About 209,000') as "spell wrong"s ('About 82,300').

The '?' at the end is a master-stroke; we suspect the answer's NO by the way, as it would be to other questions, such as – for example


This unsupported claim is picked out in a sub-title, this time graced with quotation marks – implying that someone had actually voiced it (rather than that it sprang randomly from the fevered imagination of the 'writer'). And, as so often with such call-outs, it misquotes the text anyway, apart from giving it an unwarranted full-point:

And why would our young people want to be 'boosted'. Scrumping, I'll be bound – little hooligans.

Enough for today.


PS, but before I go, here's another clue:

Successful final break shredded root vegetable without a name? Not I!  (9)

Update: 2014.12.14.11:10 – Added explanatory bit at the beginning.

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  
nearly 48,200 views  and over 6,500 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,400 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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