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9:58am on Monday, 18th July, 2011:

Such As


Here's a fragment of an article from yesterday's Observer:

What's with the line about Rowland Rivron? Is it supposed to be a joke?

Well, my guess is yes, it is supposed to be a joke, and was indeed a joke until a sub-editor got to it. What the author (comedian Alan Davies) probably wrote is: "hosted by someone like Rowland Rivron (actually, there is no-one like Rowland Rivron)" only for the first "like" to be replaced by the more formally correct "such as".

In 1997, I wrote a letter to The Independent that included the phrase "if it carried a government health warning like cigarettes do". A month later, an envelope arrived in the post addressed to "Richrd Bartle, West Bergholt, Essex", bearing a stamp stuck down with polystyrene cement. Inside was a jaggedly-cut clipping of my letter, in which the word "like" was circled and an arrow pointing at it was labelled "as".

So much for context. I wonder how many people think that the Facebook "like" button really means "similar to"?

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).