Can't escape with full bladder?

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cuchuflete

Senior Member
EEUU-inglés
Hussain was last seen running across Sloane Square, in west London, after escaping from the building in nearby Lowndes Square at about 1435 GMT last Friday.
He told private security guards from G4S Care and Justice Services that he needed to visit the toilet before escaping.
source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8338808.stm

This not-so-amusing adverbial phrase, before escaping, is so far from its verb, told,
that one might easily ask why he had informed the guards of escape plan.

Am I the only reader to find this to be an example of bad copy-editing? How did you read it?
 
  • Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    I often read the BBC News online translated into Spanish and the quality of translation is very, very poor. Once it was so bad that I actually mailed them and complained that the whole sense of the news story had been changed. (I received no reply, of course...)
    Therefore I'm not at all surprised that the person who wrote this article has made such a faux-pas (personally I do find it amusing!).
    Dangerous criminal to guard : 'Hey I'm going to escape in five minutes, have I got time to go to the loo?'
    Guard : 'Yeah but make sure you are back here in time for the escape'.
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    That is indeed strange. It's actually quite difficult to read the sentence the way they meant it to be read.
     
    Last edited:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Cuchu, the only way I can read this is as you describe: he told the security guards that he would be escaping shortly, but before he escaped, he first needed to visit the toilet. Indeed, this meaning is so obvious that it did not occur to me at first that this should have been, for example, "he told guards he needed to visit the toilet, but then escaped instead."
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Thanks to all for sharing my eccentric interpretation, or joining in my bemusement at the
    obvious sense, so different from what was intended.

    He told private security guards from G4S Care and Justice Services that he needed to visit the toilet before escaping.

    All the writer or editor needed to do, I think, was move "before escaping" to the front of the sentence:

    Before escaping, he told private security guards from G4S Care and Justice Services that he needed to visit the toilet. before escaping.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    O that's wonderful, cuchu!

    And as you say, so easy to solve {resolve?};)
     

    Hitchhiker

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Some stories are copied directly from the police reports which may not be perfect English. I often think the news writers and/or editors are not native English speakers. Since returning to the US, I am surprised at all of the British English now used on American TV news. I don't think the American news anchors are writing it that way, unless they think it sounds "smarter".
     
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