Bicycles (or other)

January 9, 2017

The photo below shows the western end of the prom in Salthill, a popular walking route near where I live in Galway. It’s local tradition to kick the wall on the right before turning around and retracing one’s steps; alternatively you can walk past the gate for further shore views across the bay to the Burren hills.

Take a look at the sign on the gate:


Emergency Access. Bicycles (or other) attached to this gate will be removed.

What I’m curious about is the meaning of the phrase bicycles (or other). Other what?

Read the rest of this entry »

‘The’ way to emphasise a word

June 14, 2016

Quotation marks for ‘emphasis’ are common in unedited writing but rare in formal prose, where italics are the usual approach. Bold and underlines are occasionally used; ditto *asterisks* and _underscores_. ALL CAPS and Initial Caps are sometimes favoured but can suggest shouting, humour, or a headline effect, so they’re more suited to informal contexts: both are popular on social media, for example.

There’s an anomalous example in a book I just read, Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist, an engrossing memoir/exposé by Paul Kimmage (Yellow Jersey Press, revised edition, 2007). It occurs about halfway in; Kimmage is describing the effect of Stephen Roche winning the Tour de France:

Read the rest of this entry »

Peddling while pedalling

May 24, 2009

When you’re cycling in a city you should expect the unexpected – especially if you’re sharing the road with a lorry in a hurry. Luckily no one seems to have been seriously hurt in this incident, but it must have been a shocking experience for everyone there. One of the cyclists has uploaded a couple of photos, and the story was picked up by the Guardian and NY Times websites, among others.

[Edit: this image is just an image, not a video or an external link.]

Stan Carey - peddle, pedal

Stan Carey - peddled, pedalled

The Guardian reported that the Mayor of London and the UK transport minister “peddled” round a corner. They may have been pedalling, but I don’t think they were peddling anything. The two activities do not go well together: presumably even cyclists who peddle from the saddle would not attempt to do so without stopping.

The newspaper’s own style guide has the following entries for these near-homonyms:

pedaller: cyclist
peddler: drug dealer
pedlar: hawker

Peddler can mean more than “drug dealer”: one can peddle goods of all kinds, though the word sometimes carries connotations of dubious or illicit activity. But the guide is deliberately very concise; I am not disputing its entries, I am reproving the website editing. Whether the mistake was the writer’s or an editor’s, it was a careless one – though not as careless (or dangerous) as the lorry driver’s.