Is it just me — and other copy editors — who gets annoyed when I see media outlets mangling the English language, especially in headlines?

Sigh . . .

Yes, a headline I came across on the web has got me going this morning. It’s on a CTV News story: “Michaelle Jean named first woman leader of la Francophonie”

What’s wrong with it, you might be asking. Well, if the person were a male who had been named, would the headline read “John Doe named first man leader of la Francophonie”?

Of course not. It would have read “… named first male leader,” or “Doe first man to lead la Francophonie.”

CTV’s headline should have read “… named first female leader,” or “Jean first woman to lead la Francophonie.”

I see the word “woman” misused in headlines often, but never the word “man.” I wonder if the headline writers who are using the word “woman” incorrectly are males? (But I digress)

There’s more.

How about this one? “So-and-so set a new record. He is the first person that climbed the mountain backward.”

What’s wrong with it?

Well, first, if it’s a record, it’s obviously new, yes? The word “new” is redundant, but you see and hear it used in that context all the time. It’s wrong!

And, second, “that” is not a pronoun. People are not “thats.” He is the first person “who” climbed the mountain backward, not “that climbed . . .”


Here’s another one that’s used wrong, though some will dispute this: “a myriad of things.”

Since myriad means “of great number,” simply saying “myriad things” would suffice, yes?

Then there is the “more importantly” phrase when “more important” is what is meant.

And on and on it goes.

How about “closure” when “closing” is meant? A family seeks closure over the death of a loved one; a road closing affects traffic flow.

Speaking of which, people are not “impacted” by the closing; they are “affected” by it. “Impact” is correct as a verb in the packing context, but not in the “affecting” context.

Or “transgendered” when “transgender” is the right word. The word “transgender” is an adjective. Saying “a transgendered person” is like saying “a redded house” when “a red house” is meant.

OK, one more: the phrases “cold temperatures” and “hot temperatures” are wrong! lol. It should be “low temperatures” or “high temperatures.” And you would think weather people on TV would know that.

There are myriad examples of bad grammar in news reports in print and on air. I bet you all have your peeves, even if they are not pets . . .

Do tell . . .

— Jillian