I know I've written a lot about shoddy language use in newspapers recently, and about the woolly use of figures, but this is a particularly fine example of both so bear with me.
I'm a "dependent drinker". So are you. At least according to free London paper Metro today.
Its lead story is about "problem drinkers" in the UK costing the health service £1.3bn a year. It goes on to talk about "dependent drinkers"- even worse than problem drinkers - who "down up to 50 pints a week".
Now think of a number up to 50. I choose, um, 10 - but you may have a different number.
So far this week I've drunk five pints and no doubt will drink a few more by the end of the week - quite possibly 10 in total. That's a number 'up to 50', as we've just established. So that makes me a dependent drinker. Thanks, Metro.
In fact, by this logic, the only people who aren't dependent drinkers are those who drink - or rather, down, which is quite a feat - more than 50 pints a week.
(Interestingly, the version of the story on the Metro website doesn't include the offending phrase, so maybe they realised their mistake.)
The ambiguous Oxford comma
6 days ago