Srsly, BBC?

August 12, 2016 • 2:30 pm

by Grania

After reading Jerry’s post on the putative oldest living vertebrate earlier today, I wondered what the teeth of the Greenland shark looked like and went to Google to see if I could find out. I ended up on the BBC’s shark pages and then went down the inevitable Internet rabbit hole of clicking through on other interesting pages.

The BBC is of course the bastion of plummy accents, perfect enunciation, and I would have assumed the best example of English as she is goodly spoken. Or not, in the case if the entry for the Frilled Shark.

The ex-teacher in me has a hard time reading bad writing on professional websites. I know from bitter personal experience that the more I re-read a piece of writing to eliminate any errors, the more likely I am to spot the mistake 5 minutes after I hit the Publish button. So I have some sympathy. Just not much when the very first sentence not only has a common homophonic error, but also manages to say the exact opposite of what the writer was aiming for.

Spot the mistakes

Oy. Also, the exclamation marks!!! I did learn something new about sharks though, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

On that note, happy Friday to all. I’m off to have a beer.

52 thoughts on “Srsly, BBC?

  1. As a lifelong employee of the BBC I find this piece of science writing awful gee whiz blimey mate and not typical of its output.
    The Beeb has had to make slashing cuts due to loss of funding, being under attack from the press and its political allies, who fear its independent voice and the audience it ‘takes’ from commercial rivals. I can only hope this is the cause of the sloppiness.

  2. O Yes, Ms Grania, I see your “exact opposite” point there … … which the BBC must’ve done.

    So now I am wondering: what is the exact opposite of Friday ? and what is the exact opposite of beer ?

    cuz I wouldn’t wanna be misunderstandin’ at where and at when I am supposed to be … … at Friday Afternoon’s ‘Journal’ Club meet – up !

    Soon !

  3. There are many accents in the British Isles, I assume yours is Irish. A “plummy” accent should be no more worth mention than yours or Welsh or Scots.

    1. I have a mongrel accent, or “hybrid” as one person politely put it. It’s all over the place.

      I’m actually not Irish, although after nearly 20 years of living here, I probably have a slight Irish twinge added to the other influences all jostling around in there.


    2. I imagine Grania mentioned it because the old RP was also called a “BBC accent.”

      A lot of us Yanks are suckers for it; they always have me from their first “not at all” — the nasal frictive “n” ramping up into the three short, rounded vowels, separated by the two percussive “t”s, each pronounced as clearly and distinctly as though played by a symphony timpanist.

      The way we Yanks say the phrase, it sounds like the name of an over-the-counter sleep aid: “Noddedal.”

      1. I’ve had people who’ve never been to Britain asking me if I’m British. At least they don’t think I’m Australian …

        1. Bobby Darin version or Louie Armstrong version? … Or you prefer the Kurt Weill-Berthold Brecht original?

          1. oh zee shark haz, pretty teet dear…

            Actually saw the opera whence this song came about a year ago. The City of Mahagonny, or something like that. Interesting, but not my fave

  4. Teeth on edge, check.

    Also contains the ubiquitous error that’s been driving me batty for decades–screwing up the proper form for binomials (see last sentence).

          1. Before you and the kids go celebrating, Diane, you should check out the valuation of the internet — and the potential tax consequences.

            They tried to award me the internet once; I refused it — the way J.P. Sartre declined the Nobel Prize for Literature. (To paraphrase the great existentialist, I’d rather be remembered as ‘Kukec the dissolute commenter,’ rather than as ‘Kukec the internet laureate.’) Well, that, and my accountant warned me it’d bump me into a bracket beyond my means.

    1. Also the little things annoy. The excessive number of ‘its’ for example. I find myself reaching for a red pen.

  5. That’s pretty pathetic, but I’m not surprised. It is only a matter of time before lol-speak makes it into BBC reporting. NPR, which is by no means on par with the BBC, frequently gives a “shout out” during their programming, as if they are pre-teens and still living in the late ’90’s.

    On a slightly less irritating, but still quite irritating, note, I frequently consume a variety of science-focused podcasts, many of which originate from the UK. Why, may I ask, do the otherwise well-educated podcasters, such as those with the Naked Scientist, insist on referring to any all all microscopic things, viruses, bacteria, archaea, etc., as “bugs”?! I have no wish to be a pedant, I’m not educated enough to be one, but for f*ck’s sake people! Oh, I can’t see it with my naked eye, so it must be a bug, right?

    1. NPR . . . frequently gives a “shout out” during their programming, as if they are pre-teens and still living in the late ’90’s.

      On a recent Morning Edition segment about the apparent un-cool-ness of cargo shorts (its heyday was apparently in the 90’s),Steve Inskeep was good to interject and advise listeners, “The 90’s, by the way, are not in the 21st century.”

      1. The BBC broadcasts 6 national radio channels, covering FM, medium wave, long wave and digital, plus dozens of local radio channels and channels for minorities e.g. The Asian Network. There are also 3 TV channels, children’s channels, an internet only channel – BBC3, World Service on shortwave radio and TV, BBC America etc, a website and I player for everything you might have missed. A tour de force. Quite overwhelming.
        Every accent from posh through RP to street and downright incomprehensible is available so it’s ridiculous to generalise. Welcome to Britain!

      2. On Morning Edition Mr Innskeep in particular, in my view Mr Filippo, is only and almost always about ‘happy, happy talk’.

        I so, so miss Mr Bob Edwards. And have. Ever since Day #1 of his outster, er, I mean of his leaving … … .his. program.


        1. I miss Bob Edwards too. The decline of NPR began the day he was fired, but it really worsened when Bush parachuted a bunch of cryptofascist apparatchiks from RFE into PBS and the whole content changed from news-oriented to propaganda. When was the last time anybody heard a real socialist or unionist interviewed? Or commentary from anybody on the left? These days political commentary is limited to such as EJ Dionne (IMO somewhat right of center) and David Brooks (pretty far out in the republican weeds).

          1. O my, my, Chris Moffatt, this information on NPR from F A I R is rather, well, … … angering actually !

            Thank you !

    2. “That’s pretty pathetic, but I’m not surprised. It is only a matter of time before lol-speak makes it into BBC reporting.”

      Which reminds me of another pet peeve–news articles that largely consist of a string of tweets. WaPo is always doing this.

    1. Traditional journalism is on its death bed. Those of us who still appreciate it need to help all we can. (Especially those of us who use ad-blockers.) I subscribe online to organs like the NYT, WaPo, Grauniad, etc., even though much of their content is available free and I almost never bother to utilize whatever special perks they offer to subscribers. I doubt it’ll make a difference, but I like to think that if enough of us demonstrate our support that way the media might once more be able to afford to pay for decent reporting.

Leave a Reply