Birdwatching cartoon – and English usage cartoon
Birdwatching cartoon. Misuse of English cartoon.
A cartoon showing a father and son birdwatching. The father is correcting his son’s use of English – on seeing a lesser spotted woodpecker the son has mistakenly called it a fewer spotted woodpecker.
This isn’t just a cartoon about birdwatchers. It’s also a cartoon about linguistics and specifically English usage or misuse.
The mixing up of the words fewer and less is a common error.
Getting annoyed or irritated by the misuse of English, especially at the less/fewer level, is commonly seen as a sign of grumpy middle age.
The cartoon’s idea came to mind because of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Big Garden Birdwatch, an annual event in which people are encouraged to count the different garden birds that visit their gardens.