How often has the media put “multiple” in its headlines? Many times, folks, many times…

Dunno about other readers, but Alf is apt to get a bit scratchy at the media’s use of “multiple”.

An example popped up at the Herald website this afternoon.

The report says (here):

Multiple people were believed to have been involved in a Papakura stabbing which left a man in a critical condition this morning.

The headline writer would have been delighted the headline was self-evident.

Multiple people involved in morning stabbing

The writer of the story could have said several people were believed to have been involved, or – if the number is unknown – an unknown number of people were believed to have been involved.

But nah. It had to be “multiple” in the first sentence.

Dunno if the police used the word “multiple”.

It sounds like the clumsy word a po-faced Mr Plod would use when earnestly giving an account of what happened to journalists.

The Herald report does tell us the cops were called to the assault at Rosehill in Papakura about 2.30am.

It goes on to say …

A 21-year-old man had been stabbed several times and was taken to hospital with “serious, life-threatening stab wounds,” police said.

He has had surgery but remains in a critical condition.

Police believe several people were involved and are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the attack to contact Counties Manukau police.

They had not yet recovered any weapons and urged anyone who found any knives to call police immediately.

Much earlier in the day the writer of the story (here) avoided “multiple” in the first sentence and instead said:

A man is fighting for his life after being stabbed a number of times in Auckland early today.

Police were called to the assault at Rosehill in Papakura about 2.30am.

The victim was taken by ambulance to hospital, with “serious, life threatening stab wounds,” police said.

The headline writer nevertheless went for…

Man suffered multiple stab wounds in Auckland assault

According to a site visited by Mrs Grumble during the research ordered by her ever-loving husband, the hard-working MP for Eketahuna North, “multiple” has this definition:

Having, relating to, or consisting of more than one individual, element, part, or other component; manifold.

So maybe it’s not inaccurate to use it as the headline writers use it.

It’s just that Alf would prefer “several” or “many”.

If the number is in the dozens, then “dozens” should do the trick.

And if it’s in the hundreds, then “hundreds” is a good word.

But the headline writer at Stuff thinks otherwise.

Earlier this month he/she handled a report (here) about the train carrying hundreds of passengers that derailed and crashed into a station outside Paris on the eve of a major holiday weekend.

At least six people were killed and dozens were injured, including nine in critical condition, the Interior Ministry said.

The headline was

Multiple deaths after Paris train derails

In other reports recently, a Tauranga man (here) suffered multiple injuries to his leg and wa in a serious condition after a crash in Kawerau, a woman was trapped in her car (here) after a multiple nose to tail crash on the Napier Hastings expressway and a rescue helicopter crew responded to a call for help (here) to find a 17-year-old female who had suffered multiple injuries after a car accident on an icy road in Kereru.

Indeed, Alf could give multiple examples of the bloody word’s use in place of “many”, or “several).

But he does not blanch if the report is about multiple sclerosis.

Likewise, the word “multiple” is apt if the report is referring to a number that may be divided by another number with no remainder.

Otherwise it should be shunned. Like Greenies and Lefties.

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