I try not to indulge in too much schadenfreude when I see a typographical error: bad karma, glass houses, all of that.

But sometimes, it’s impossible not to either laugh out loud or groan in despair, or both.

David Campbell MP, the NSW Minister for Transport and the Illawarra, also happens to be my local member so naturally I get his four page, full colour, photo-rich, glossy Community News in my mailbox.

Among the various puff pieces touting the marvellous achievements of the walrus-like Campbell (which strangely doesn’t include how he is putting up fares for trains that are less frequent, less reliable, less patrolled and less clean than is acceptable), mentions that Towradgi Surf Life Saving Club is being funded for a new education training area in their clubhouse. Nothing bad about that, except the explanation of why surf life saving matters.

“The value of these services to our community cannot be underestimated.”

Read that again. At first glance, it seems to make sense. But it doesn’t, really.

It would have been correct to say:

“The value of these services to our community should not be underestimated.”


“The value of these services to our community cannot be overestimated.”

But the wording as it stands is actually saying it is not possible to value these services too lowly.

Yes, that’s really picky and pedantic. And, of course, Campbell almost certainly didn’t even read it before it went to press, let alone write it.

But surely such an egregious error should not occur. Surely somebody should read this stuff for meaning, not just whack it through the spellchecker and hope for the best.

As George W. Bush is quoted as saying, “You misunderestimate me”, and as Robin Williams is quoted as saying ,”No, George, we don’t.”

1 thought on “misunderestimation”

  1. Nice post. Always enjoy a good grammatical punch-up! Analysing weird statements in the media/news (the ABC Radio News has some pearlers) is a fave. sport at home.

    Campbell, regrettably, is but one of a significant phalanx of semi-literate folk in high places. Good thing some of us are awake!

    Keep up the great work.


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