The election is past, so I cannot be accused of attempting to influence your vote. Not that I would anyway. But I have criticisms to level at the campaign.
To be specific, I have criticisms of the leaflets pushed through my letterbox. I’ve been collecting them (28 in total – so much for a conservationist approach to paper usage!) and assessing the contents.
I found only one glaring spelling error, “you” instead of “your”. The leaflets had probably been electronically proof-read but that isn’t the same job that would be done by an experienced, assiduous human reader of the type that used to work in newspapers’ readers departments.
A real reader would also point out “anymore” should be two words, instead of: “don’t stand for this anymore”. And that, though some dictionaries give it as optional, “focused” requires just one S. A human reader would advise that “they’ve” isn’t a word to use in formal writing.
There were other faults.
The use of colour. A leaflet in party colours is understandable, but some went far beyond. A few looked like they’d been designed by a child with a new paintbox, who decided to use every colour in it.
There was a needless use of capital letters, underlines, italics, and different-coloured words in text to show emphasis. This always looks as if the writer communicates in a normal voice then suddenly chooses to SHOUT.
And some words that clearly were not proper nouns were given an initial capital. There is no need for an upper-case P in: “we suffered in the Pandemic”.
There was shrill-sounding hyperbole referring to “our amazing area”. It is patronising. While I like where I live, I’m not really “amazed” by it. There was also a lot of tautology, there’s no need to say: “return back to”.
I especially didn’t like the inconsistent methods of presenting the election date. One leaflet managed May 6th, 6 May, and 06 May all on one piece of paper. Again, an electronic read might not spot this as all three versions are technically correct. But a human reader knows consistency is vital.
There was a loose approach to compound adjectives. Some were hyphenated (“hard-working”), others were not. One leaflet gave both “future-proof” and “future proof”.
I’d accept “7% of voters”, but not “the % of voters”. The percentage sign is not a word. Also, “try and” should never be seen. It is “try to”.
My least favourite thing was the use of hyphens where longer en dashes were needed, and even a mix of hyphens and en dashes within a sentence.
Pernickety? Yes, absolutely. People like me are that way inclined. We would admire a leaflet that has had great care taken over it. We believe diligent people will have learned to use words well, and to punctuate properly. We think painstaking accuracy is reassuring and trustworthy.
That’s the way politicians want to be seen, isn’t it?
Word of the week
The dry stalk left after grass has shed its seed. EG: “Windlestraw candidates look on forlornly as the election victor milks his applause.”
Read the latest Oh my word! every Saturday in The Courier. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org