Australia has suffered more than its fair share of what are known euphemistically as ‘weather events’. The reporting has thrown up a few challenges for inexperienced journalists.
Residents ‘bunkered down’ for the night.
I’m sure you heard this or read this more than once. The expression is ‘hunkered down’ and is believed to have come from old Scottish, ‘to squat’. You can hunker down in your bunker but you can’t bunker down in your hunker. (‘Bunker down’ is a bit like a word coined by an ex colleague: ‘bravuda’. It took me a few seconds to work out that it was a combination of ‘bravura’ and ‘bravado’…so easily confused.)
Cyclone Yasi was ‘honing in’ on Townsville.
It wasn’t. It was ‘homing in’ on its eventual target. Journalists need to ‘hone’ (or sharpen) their skills.
Cyclone Yasi hit ‘predominately’ unpopulated areas.
I hope not. It may, however, have hit areas that were ‘predominantly’ unpopulated and where bananas ‘predominate’.
The bottom line is that we need to be aware of (and sure of) the terminology we’re using – or you could always give me a call and I can proofread your copy for you.