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I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

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05 January 2013

New Year quiz: how many moustaches in the Rue de Poussy?

Eow menni mustashis does
Inspector Clouseau av?
A Happy New year to all readers of this blog.
      A good British tradition is to pass the time over the holiday by having little domestic quizzes. Conforming to the accepted etiquette, this blog is going to pose a couple of silly questions to readers which they might like to mull over during the long hours of productive indolence which is our reward for a year’s diligent study of English language etiquette. 
     A news story published this week on the BBC website about Naomi Campbell's having been mugged recently in Paris contained the following passage:
A police source quoted by the UK's Press Association said: On November 21, two people [moustache] attempted to steal Ms Campbell's handbag as she sat in a vehicle on the Rue de Poussy.”
     The questions for the blog readership are about the word in brackets in that quote, namely “moustache”.
  • Should that be: “Two people with a moustache attempted...”, which could be taken to mean that there were two people sharing the same moustache?
  • Or should it be: “Two people with moustaches attempted...”, which could be taken to mean that they both had more than one moustache?
  • Or is there a way of re-writing the sentence to avoid the problem?
     What do you think? 
     This being the season of goodwill, there will be a special prize of a Glenfiddich tasting invitation to the rebellious reader who comes up with an argument that totally destroys the basis of my questions. All clues necessary to find that argument are already in this post.
     And since it is New Year, a final, non-linguistic point: I always thought Rue de Poussy was a street in Paris—until I discovered Christ the Saviour at Kropotkinskaya.


  1. I think they were 'stumbling over their moustaches', which could be the reason why the attempt to steal the handbag was unsuccessful.

  2. May be:
    "On November 21, two moustached people attempted to steal Ms Campbell's handbag as she sat in a vehicle on the Rue de Poussy"

    1. That comes very close. You are basically right, though the accepted word is "moustachioed" rather than "moustached". The Glenfiddich invite is yours!

    2. Thank you very much!
      Unfortunately, I'm won't be able to visit Moscow in the nearest future. So I would like to concede your generous invitation to the second person who will answer the question.

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