On BBC World Service News this morning we heard that in Port au Prince there are ‘Protests against long-delayed elections’. The identical phrase was used again an hour later, so it wasn’t just a slip by a busy editor.
Now if, as seems reasonable, that means what it says, it’s very odd: the people of Haiti don’t want elections? But nevertheless they are displeased that elections are long-delayed? Well yes; I suppose if the unwanted elections are inevitable, then best get them over with rather than put off the evil moment.
Odder still, BBC News notwithstanding, I have heard from other sources that in fact most of the people of Haiti are keen to have elections, indeed that they have been protesting against the delays, not against the elections.
Is it possible that that is actually what the BBC meant? That is to say, something quite other than what it said? I might be thought to have a bee in my bonnet about the Beeb, but when the writers of its international news show themselves incapable of meaning what they say or saying what they mean, it’s time they were replaced by people who know how to express a meaning in good English.
'It must be true: I heard it on the BBC'.