Disillusioned commentary on Australian financial sector, politics, business, media... with attention occasionally distracted to the world outside... and intermittent reminder that rage is a more life-conserving irrationality than despair.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The techtonic plates of English language move

The FIN observes in its lead editorial today, "Tort monster back in its cage", that recent legislative changes have resulted in a 31 per cent drop in personal injury claims before Australian state district and county courts. It then goes on to make the odd observation that, "[the state of New South Wales] was the epicentre of the litigation crisis, with two or three times as many claims as Victoria and Queensland in 2002".


The Economist's style guide defines "epicentre" as follows:

Epicentre means that point on the earth's surface above the centre of an earthquake. To say that Mr Putin was at the epicentre of the dispute suggests that the argument took place underground.

While there is much that goes on in Australia underground - literally or figuratively (ranging from gold mining to heroin distribution) - we don't think personal injury court cases commonly do so.

Let's not censure The FIN too severely though; the battle seems lost.

The Economist itself reported on April 24th 2003 in a story about UK gangland murders, that:

Murderousness is rife in Scotland, with more than a 100 killings in each of the past two years. Strathclyde's estates are the epicentre: five Glaswegians were killed in one 48-hour spell last month.

So what do we call the point on the earth's surface to which "epicentre" used to refer? "The point on the earth's surface above the earthquake's epicentre" perhaps?


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