Journalists often write that something happened earlier this year/month/day, or that it’s expected to occur later this year/month/day, but the words earlier and later are usually redundant in this context. Worse, I suspect reporters are sometimes simply lazy.
Just over a month ago, on December 31, the Independent newspaper reported that someone had been knighted “for his support for educational projects such as the Blavatnik School of Government opened in Oxford University earlier this year”.
Well, the launch took place last September so why not write that? I’ve seen it so often over the years and I never understood why some colleagues couldn’t be bothered to be precise.
Here is an example by the Reuters news agency last month: “The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the Anglican Church, will marry Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton later this year, the prince’s office Clarence House said on Wednesday.”
Of course it will take place later this year because it hasn’t happened yet. The word later can be removed. It’s so daft. Why not just say they’ll marry in April?
Or how about this from uk.tv.yahoo.com: “James Caan has revealed that he is quitting the BBC2 series ‘Dragons’ Den’. The entrepreneur confirmed the news on his Twitter account earlier today.”
To say it was earlier today is stating the blindingly obvious because we’re talking past tense. Remove the word earlier and nobody would notice.
I welcome your comments.