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28 March 2012

Brief boobs #5: Prince Charles gets his verbs mixed up: seeing/watching

Charles and Camilla
Today’s Daily Telegraph has a “humanise the Royals” piece about the television-watching habits of Prince Charles and his second wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. Apparently on a recent visit to Copenhagen, the Duchess admitted that her favourite viewing at the moment is a “gritty, expletive-ridden Danish crime drama” called The Killing. Prince Charles, according to the paper, normally likes watching the cartoon comedy, Wallace and Gromit.
     For Russian readers it should perhaps be explained that Wallace is a plasticine-modelled cheese enthusiast and amateur inventor from somewhere in Lancashire, and Gromit is his highly intelligent but completely silent (because he has no mouth) dog. When my children were about 10 years old they loved them. Prince Charles still does at the age of 63, but then he, too, is a cheese enthusiast and heavy-duty hobbyist.
     Apparently the Prince and the Duchess have very different tastes in family viewing. When they sit down together in front of the television on a quiet evening in Clarence House, at Highgrove House or on the Birkhall estate on Deeside, they find this a problem. The Telegraph quoted Charles as saying that The Killing is “one of the only things we can agree on seeing together”.
Wallace and Gromit
     Most native-speakers of English “watch” the television; they do not “see” it. The difference is similar to the difference in Russian between the words смотреть and видеть. Prince Charles’s father may be of Danish extraction and have Greek connections, and his mother may be half-Scottish with German antecedents in the paternal line, but Charles himself was born and brought up amongst native-speakers of English and should be expected to know better. Perhaps he does. Perhaps it is the declining standards of proof-reading in Fleet Street which is to blame.
     Either way, the sentence is not grammatical. Charles might correctly have said, “When my wife and I see each other we watch television together only when we see eye-to-eye on what we should watch. The only thing we agree on is that we both love murder with lots of swearing.”

1 comment:

  1. But English people do say'Did you see (eg) Strictly Come Dancing last night'. To use 'watch' in that context sounds a bit awkward and formal