Tuesday 13 August 2013

What is it with the BBC and inverted commas?

Jeremy Paxman has said he might keep his facial hair. He’s said it to them. He works for them. They don’t need to have it in inverted commas as though they are paraphrasing him or to suggest it’s the kind of thing he was saying. They have the quote from him, it’s OK to have the sentence without the quote marks.

Even if they didn’t have them it would still be fine to have them. Because he has something, he definitely factually literally has a beard. If someone has something they may keep it. They may not. But you don’t need a quote from the person having the thing to state that modality.

And how is his beard notorious? Has it committed a spree of high profile bank robberies? Has it fooled several millionaires into buying forged artistic masterpieces? Has it seduced a series of prize-winning race horses ruining them for competition? No. Notoriety suggests a degree of negativity or badness (or is this just another one of the long list of words whose meaning is flexible and to question mis-use of it is to be a pedant?). Jeremy Paxman’s beard isn’t notorious. It’s a gathering of pubic hair on a man’s face.

All this said, I fucking loved that this is a news story – even if it is a news story on the BBC website and so it really just a bit of self-perpetuating publicity.

It’s a great beard.


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