Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer


The Kuwait Times crime editor has come across a new term, and now he is using it every chance he gets. It is driving me crazy.

See if you can pick it out:

Policeman Injured
A policeman was injured after his patrol vehicle jackknifed when he lost control of the steering with the car coming to a rest upside down in the road. The officer managed to use the car’s radio to call for assistance and emergency services were quickly rushed to the scene, rushing the injured policeman to hospital.

Unless the police officer was driving a sectioned vehical; a car towing a trailer, a truck carrying a connected load – something that can be BENT, FOLDED, like a jackknife –

– then it is NOT a jackknifed vehicle. Most police vehicles are sedans. A sedan cannot jackknife.

This is the explanation from Wikipedia:
Jackknifing means the accidental folding of an articulated vehicle (i.e. one towing a trailer) such that it resembles the acute angle of a folding pocket knife. If a vehicle towing a trailer skids, the trailer can push it from behind until it spins round and faces backwards. This may be caused by equipment failure, improper braking, or adverse road conditions such as an icy road surface.

Jackknifing is not very common and usually only happens to an empty vehicle. Most truck drivers are skillful enough to correct a skid before it becomes a jackknife. It would be an exaggeration to claim that jackknifing accounts for a large number of tractor-semitrailer accidents since in many cases it is the collision that would have caused the vehicle to jackknife and not vice versa. Radio stations often report jackknifed trucks because people phone to tell them, but more often than not, the truck has not technically jackknifed; it may be stuck in the snow or damaged in a crash.

June 30, 2008 - Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Just Bad English, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, Words


  1. lol perhaps the accident was that bad that it jackknifed a sedan in half 😛

    i’m disappointed that the writer didnt use the “turned turtle” term for a flipped over car as they always seem to, or maybe that was the arab times.

    Comment by sknkwrkz | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  2. No, no, you are right, both papers used “turned turtle.” The Kuwait Times has stopped – most of the time – using “caught red handed” but the Arab Times throws it in almost daily.

    And Hanan al Sadoun, whom I normally really like reading – had a man in a “most uncompromising position” the other day, which grates on me almost as badly as this jackknife!

    It is a COMPROMISING position, compromising!

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. The editor has a ba in english literature. the newspaper, quite apparently, cannot differentiate between english language and journalism. They didnt even know what an AP (associated press) Style Book…yet they call themselves editors, reporters and worst of all, journalists. Its like claiming to be a priest that hasnt heard or read the bible. sigh. i kilf.

    Comment by Mrm | June 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. The Kuwait Times has improved so much in the two and a half years I have been reading it, so much that I hesitate to even mention the small things. When I first started reading, there would be articles that weren”t even articulate. They have come a long way, and still need an eagle eye.

    Lots of columnists, very few by-lines on the hard news, which I don’t get at all.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  5. by-lines are scarce because hard news is typically extracted from the associated press/KUNA where it is edited to the paper’s liking, then printed. its very hard for say, the daily star or the arab times to have a reporter be at the right place/right time to report hard news.

    psf- i like to WATCH my hard news, but READ feature articles 😀 how do u like ur news?

    Comment by Mrm | July 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. a most uncompromising position sounds incredibly painful. I hope the man was okay 🙂

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | July 2, 2008 | Reply

  7. Good question, Mrm!

    Actually, I like reading newspapers, magazines, even cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. So reading would be my preferred source. I really like reading Hanan al Sadoun (most of the time) because it’s rare to find a woman crime writer, she takes amazing photos, and she seems to have amazing resources by which she gets her news. She rarely goes wrong with her grammar.

    BBC or National Public Radio is also a great sourceof news for me; they do great investigative work, long-term examinations of issues.

    What I find frustrating about TV news is that they only run stuff that they have visuals for, and other stuff goes greatly ignored.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 2, 2008 | Reply

  8. The “uncompromising position” story was a very sad one. A man’s mentally deficient brother was raped. The assailants were so stupid, and so callous, that they filmed him in degrading positons, and when his older brother went to them they GAVE him a copy of the film! They were laughing and thought they were funny.

    What I totally love is that the elder brother went straight to the police; he had evidence – the film – which he handed over to the police.

    I hope the assailants rot in hell.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 2, 2008 | Reply

  9. they probably meant to say “fishtail” instead of “jackknife”

    Comment by bob hoskins | May 19, 2011 | Reply

  10. No, he meant to say jackknifed, but he would have said fishtailed if he had known that phrase! It would have been more fitting, you are right. The problem is that sometimes they find an idiom that they love, and they use it to death, and they use it inaccurately or inappropriately.

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 20, 2011 | Reply

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