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On evacuation...

Tim Bailey | 13:59 UK time, Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Amid the coverage of efforts to get British people out of Lebanon, I'm hoping all my colleagues remember that people can "be evacuated" but they do not "evacuate", unless they are doing something quite different. (I've clarified this entry from earlier - there used to be a debate about whether evacuation could apply to people at all, ie that only buildings or places could be evacuated, but it's now of course quite acceptable usage to say that people are evacuated, and our style reflects that.) [Updated Friday 21 July 0930 BST]

Tim Bailey is editor of the Radio 4 Six O'Clock News


  • 1.
  • At 04:01 PM on 18 Jul 2006,
  • piersy wrote:

A fair point, though it is fine to say that cities are evacuated, and I guess that's what's going on.
Though with all the bombs going off I'd hardly blame people if they were to...

  • 2.
  • At 05:12 PM on 18 Jul 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Surely it's not about whether it refers to people or houses, but whether it's used as a transitive or intransitive verb? People can be evacuated; but they cannot evacuate (at least not in polite company).

  • 3.
  • At 05:23 PM on 18 Jul 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

It's worrying that Tim blogs this without actually having checked his own style guide, which clearly states "we used to insist that only places or buildings could be evacuated. This is unsustainable. Let the people be evacuated".

  • 4.
  • At 02:42 AM on 19 Jul 2006,
  • Peter Kennedy wrote:

How come Israeli commentators all sound like Americans ??

  • 5.
  • At 04:06 AM on 19 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

So buildings ARE evacuated and people ARE NOT evacuated? Then what exactly do you think "the aparatus" (to put it as delicately as possible) is used for?

  • 6.
  • At 10:16 AM on 19 Jul 2006,
  • ex-Yank wrote:

As a retired Biologist, I can tell you that involuntary evacuation is a well-known response to a frigtening experience. I should image that many in the military would be able to confirm this.

This is a very amusing blog, by the way, and cheers me up!

  • 7.
  • At 11:17 AM on 19 Jul 2006,
  • Ally wrote:

People are being evacuated all over this website. Your colleagues obviously don't share your views.

  • 8.
  • At 05:12 PM on 19 Jul 2006,
  • John Allen wrote:

Tim, style guide page 69. The common usage (or misuse) of evacuate is acknowledged.

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