Lexicographers who compile the Collins English Dictionary have been signed up en masse for a course in basic arithmetic, it has been revealed.

The move comes in the wake of their nominating “fake news” to become the ‘word of the year 2017’ despite it actually being two words.

At a press conference, spokesman Dick Shonnary told reporters, “The lexicographers and dictionary boffins at Collins are concerned with words more than numbers. We’ll put our hands in the air, we slipped up. Fake news is two words, not one. We did think of making it into a single word, but decided that would just make a bad situation into, if I may use a previous word of the year, an omnishambles.”

Maths teachers will be brought in to explain to them all the difference between the numbers one and two. One of them, a Mr Juan Anuan, had this to say:

“This is not unheard of by any means. You can get it the other way around, people who are excellent with numbers, but who struggle with words. We expect people who are strong in one discipline to be equally strong in the other, but it does not always work that way. That said, such an extreme imbalance, such extreme skills with words, but such a complete absence of awareness of how numbers work, is quite unique.”

Let’s hope they get it fixed quickly, or the word of the year for 2018 is likely to be “that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”