My synonym hell | Mind your language | Media |

from the Guardian:

Pronouns are good, popular orange vegetables are bad. Confused? Allow me to explain.

One of the joys of being a subeditor is getting stuck into a ream of copy littered with gratuitous synonyms hogging space that should really be given over to facts. My first instinct is to get rid; sometimes, however, I revel in the writer’s inventiveness and leave them be.

But a popular orange vegetable? A carrot, of course; and apparently we’re talking about one going down well in the carrot community, orange in hue and belonging to the group of foodstuffs known as vegetables. Fascinating stuff, you might say. Or not.

Yet this phrase is well-known among a group of hungry subeditors on Guardian news – it’s a Pov for short – and was coined in honour of the arresting example that triggered my awareness of such nonsense when, as a former reporter turned subeditor on the Liverpool Echo, I was fast getting to grips with the nuances of subbing.

In a feature on the health benefits of eating carrots, the second par did indeed begin: “The popular orange vegetables …” Well, we sort of know that. Besides, what’s wrong with “they”? Much shorter, sweeter and doesn’t get stuck in the throat. The newsdesk was in uproar. The senior subs were in stitches – and I knew instinctively that I’d made the right move. These things mattered – and they still do.

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