Help The Independent with its writing clarity
I don't point out grammatical errors other people have made - I'm a grammar angel. But journalists are fair game surely? Besides, this one is intriguing.
Here is a sentence from the front page of today's Independent. I have copied it carefully including all the punctuation. If you want to see the original, it's in the fifth paragraph in Osborne's Bombshell
George Osborne, the Chancellor, warned the Cabinet yesterday that departments other than health and international development whose budgets are not ring-fenced could be reduced by up to 20 per cent.
Now, it was early this morning but I read that sentence like this:
George Osborne, the Chancellor, warned the Cabinet yesterday that departments other than health and international development, whose budgets are not ring-fenced, could be reduced by up to 20 per cent.
and to me it meant that the departments whose budgets were not ring-fenced were health and international development. I presume from my very limited understanding of government and budgets that this interpretation is wrong and that the budgets that are not ring-fenced are departments other than health and international development. So how should it have been written to make it clear?
I am amused to notice that adding the commas as above and removing 'not' would help. It must be quite difficult to write a sentence that would be clarified (but not changed) by removing 'not' - Andrew Grice succeeded. It would still be open to misinterpretation though.
How would you write this sentence so that it could not be mis-read?