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NITPICKERS

Aug. 11, 1986
Aug. 11, 1986

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Aug. 11, 1986

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NITPICKERS

Edited by Gay Flood

Sir:
We find it ironic that copy chief Ed Clarke and his
''nitpickers,'' featured in LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER (July 14), let
ace writer Frank Deford begin his Wimbledon story with the incorrect
use of the word better. As most British and American readers know,
better is a comparison of two. The opening sentence should have read:
''One of the best British words is useful.'' You remember -- good,
better, best.
Perhaps you will find this letter useful.
SARA AND JACK HARRIS
Naples, Fla.
Sir:
Clarke's nitpickers need to dig a little deeper. ''Four dirigibles
-- blimps, as they're known . . .'' (SCORECARD, July 14). Not so.
They are two different things. Dirigibles have a rigid framework
supporting an unpressurized skin and are usually very large.
Examples: Hindenburg, Graf Zeppelin, Akron et al. Blimps have an
unsupported skin and are limp when unpressurized, hence ''blimp,''
from the English Type B -- limp. Examples: Goodyear, Fuji.
GUS MICHEL
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Sir:
/ The week after you praised your copyreaders, the word perfect
was misspelled prefect in the Jim Kelly article (page 66). Was this a
tongue-in-cheek mistake, or are they just getting cocky?
MICHAEL S. DALY
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
-- To The Harrises, Clarke replies: ''Being one of SI's better --
as well as best -- writers, Deford knows better than to use best when
comparing only two things. He was correctly comparing the group of
'better British words' with one other group of British words, i.e.,
the merely 'ordinary.' '' To Michel: ''According to the five
English-language dictionaries in the SI copy room, a dirigible is
simply an airship (which is an engine-driven, steerable
lighter-than-air craft), and a blimp is a nonrigid airship. Clearly,
then, a blimp is a form of dirigible.'' To Daly: ''Well, nobody's
prefect.'' -- ED.

This is an article from the Aug. 11, 1986 issue Original Layout