“Olivia Newton-John, star of Grease”

Is it really necessary for a major Australian news outlet to refer to “Olivia Newton-John, star of Grease“, perhaps to distinguish her from any other Olivia Newton-John we might know? She was and did many other other things, for example “singer, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, and activist“.

Olivia’s death comes hot on the heels of that of “Seekers singer Judith Durham“, who was almost as famous in Australia and England, if not worldwide.

(See this post for similar examples.)

PS Another major Australian news outlet refers to “Australian icon, Olivia Newton-John”.)


vowed their heads

According to an article in the Korea Herald, people “vowed their heads” at a paying-respects site for the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-Soon. I hope not. Google found three other instances of “vowed their heads”, at least two of which relate to actual vowing of heads, and the third probably a error for bowed

A seemingly self-published novel set in Norse saga times includes:

And therewith they vowed their heads for ever to the infernal gods if ever one of the blood brothers should desert the other, in danger or in need.

A very serious history of ancient Rome includes:

[S]o far did some strain in their expressions of their affections, that they vowed their heads and lives for [Caligula’s] restoring.

Another seemingly self-published novel set in fictionalised/fantasy medieval Roman Catholic Europe includes:

“We will serve you and your god, your holiness.” his servant vowed.
“We will all serve you master” affirmed by all while they vowed their heads before him.

Phonetically, it is more likely that a Korean will say or write bow instead of vow than vice versa, because there is an equivalent of b in Korean, but no equivalent of v; compare 비디오 (bi-di-o) for video.

The Korea Herald’s writer’s English is way better than my Korean, but she also refers to “a grassy plaza outside City Hall”. I would unhesitatingly write “the grassy plaza outside City Hall”, because there is only one grassy plaza outside City Hall. In fact, I would say and write “City Hall Plaza”, given that most of the Korea Herald’s readers know Seoul City Hall and its grassy plaza. The fact that the plaza is grassy is, in fact, irrelevant to this story.


A few nights ago a man was stabbed on a suburban street. He walked several blocks to a police station, from where he was taken to hospital in a survivable condition. The news report I saw interviewed a random man from that suburb, who was not even an eyewitness.  The reporter asked ‘Are you surprised there was a stabbing here?’. He said ‘Yeah. Usually it’s over there’ (pointing to the other side of the road).

The implied comparison of the question is ‘… as opposed to there not being a stabbing here?’, not ‘… as opposed to there being a stabbing over there?’. If there are usually stabbings over there, then a stabbing here cannot be especially surprising.

The man was obviously taking the mickey. Did the reporter and editor realise that but include the interview anyway, or didn’t they realise it? I would have thought news reporters and editors could recognise mickey being taken when they saw it.