All too easy to miss

A story that dropped in through the engine room hatch today concerned the funding of two industry sectors and concluded that " shouldn't be penalised at the expense of the other."

JD and I had both seen it; so had two of our magazine's writers. And just as he was about to pass the page JD mooched over and asked: "What do you think of this phrase?" Knowing he wouldn't ask such a question unless there was something amiss I read it, read it again, and finally the penny dropped – the phrase was glib, but gibberish. It was duly modified to read " shouldn't be subsidised by the other."

Remember this phrase had been written by a pro and read by four people. It goes to show that an extra read is never wasted!


Gareth said...

Can you explain this one? I'm not sure I entirely see what was wrong with the original phrase.

JD said...

If you penalise one thing at the expense of the other, it is bad for both things.

Although I can think of contexts where this might be true, what the writer meant (and what is much more commonly expressed as a concept) was more along the lines of 'benefit one at the expense of the other' - ie good for one, bad for the other.