3.1. Reports of my death

Preknowledge

I'm not dead yet!

In most newspapers, the great and the good who are deceased receive an obituary, a mini-biography of their life and achievements. However, as in any other subject, newspapers sometimes get it wrong and announce a death prematurely, much to the person's surprise and the newspapers' embarrassment. Nowadays, social media also provide grist for the rumour mill. The actor Morgan Freeman, star of films like Shawshank Redemption and Invictus, has had to deny his own passing twice on Twitter.

Mark Twain, author of Huckleberry Finn and The Prince and the Pauper was also reported dead twice. The first time, in 1897, was due to being confused with his cousin. Though no obituary was published, Twain later told the story, including his famous words: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." However, this is in fact a misquote - what he actually said was: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

His second pronounced death occurred in 1907 when a yacht he was travelling on was held up by fog and so he had disembarked elsewhere. When no news of the yacht was received, people assumed he was dead. He didn’t actually pass away till 3 years later.

Another writer, Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book and Kim, was also surprised to read of his own demise in a magazine. He immediately sent off a letter, saying: "I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers."

 The death of his brother Ludvig led several newspapers to publish the obituary of Alfred Nobel, then famous only for his arms manufacturing and as inventor of dynamite. So upset was he by the tone (including comments suggesting he had become "rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before") that he decided to bequeath most of his riches to establishing the prize which bears his name.

 And finally, there was Ron Moody, an actor best known for playing the role of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Moody was furious and he apparently said: "I’m bloody annoyed... it can affect your work. If people think you’re dead, they’re not going to use you. Unless it’s a kinky film."

Cemetery RIP
Image by Nacho in Flickr. CC
Your friend has just read the article above. He/she doesn't understand it. In your own words, summarize it and try to translate at least 5 sentences that you think your friend will find hard to understand.
Image by Leandrosciola in Openclipart. Share

DropDown Activity

Newspaper editors, like anybody else, make mistakes in their writing, though the former may feel the wrath of their readership on top of their own personal embarrassment. The Guardian newspaper in the days before computer spell checkers was so famous for its typos (typographical errors) that many people still refer to it as the GrauniadLearning to check one's work is an important skill.

Read this advice about correctness and for each line, put a tick or a cross, depending on whether there is a spelling mistake or not. The first one is done for you. 

Spelling Bee Contest Projection

Image by US Embassy Kiev Ukraine in Flickr.Public domain

It really doesn’t matter if you are writting an article or an                x

opinion piece, good spelling is always necesary. If a word               

is mispelt, it distracts the reader and causes a bad impression.        

Althought nowadays it is checked by machine, frankly, editors         

musn't forget to proof-read each piece of writing themselves           

because they recieve the blame and the angry complaints               

form their readers. The problem is that the brain and the eye          

contrive to play tricks on us because, when we think we know         

what the text should say, our brain ofen reads it as correct              

automaticly and so we miss the misprints.                                    

What can be done then? Fortunately, the red squiggle in                 

word processing programs will warn us most of the time but not        

necessarily always. The rest of the time is down to practice. The       

more you practise reading throught a piece, the more likely              

you are to find the errors.                                                          

Another thing to consider is whether your using British or American    

spelling. Obviously that depends on the style guide wich                  

your blog or paper is using but you must be consistent.                   

Enable JavaScript