What Do They Know?
A letter has been received from Chris Grayling in response to an enquiry regarding the MoJ’s expenditure on short notice bookings.
The paragraph which contains the actual cash figures begins thus: ‘As a result of difficulties within the first two months of the contract, some short notice bookings were temporarily removed from the Framework Agreement’. Note how the on-the-hoof ‘policy’ of restoring short-term bookings to direct court control is presented first, with the result that the succeeding statistics (see below), upon which we would prefer to reach our own conclusions, are presented as the natural, almost organic, result of that policy. In the phrase ‘some short notice bookings were temporarily removed from the Framework Agreement’ the logic of the word ‘temporarily’ dictates that the word ‘some’ should be interpreted as ‘some categories of’. For example, in cricket, you cannot remove ‘some dismissals temporarily’ from the TV review system. You can only ‘remove’ the generic type of dismissal (say, ‘run-outs’). Otherwise it sounds as if you are ‘temporarily’ removing some individual occurrences of run-outs from the review system which would be quaintly illogical. Yet, in Grayling’s sentence, this notion of ‘some categories’ is itself practically a hyperbole for ‘one category’, namely, ‘overnight cases at Magistrates’ Court’. In the same context Capita’s Van Loo referred to ‘a number of tribunal bookings that are short notice, which currently aren’t provided for by ALS, but we are in the process of moving those back under the Framework Agreement’ (see my previous post). ‘A number’ sounds like ‘a smallish number’ while ‘tribunals’ doesn’t sound like ‘Magistrates’ Courts’.
As interpreters, we are peculiarly sensitised to these slippages in linguistic logic, given the amount of ‘spin’ we tend to hear on a daily basis. It has a grisly fascination for us.
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 An oblique (& therefore very accessible) guide to cricket is the book ‘You Are The Umpire’ by Trevillion & Holder (Observer Books), especially pp.104-123