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!


Anonymous said...

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

JD (The Engine Room) 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.