Friday, May 20, 2005

Possessif avant le Gerondif

GRAMMARGRINCH Posted by HelloPossessif avant le Gérondif

Both Trigaux and Gailey of the SPTimes omit the possessive before the gerund below. One gets a quarrel from vainglorious language scholars who quote exceptions sanctioned by Curme and other grammar gods. But the rule prevails. Most current grammar books cite it. The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage logs it on page 253.

Mr. Trigaux saw the Enron movie; Mr. Gailey lollygags in France, where he will, were he to consult his French grammar book, discover he flouts possessif-avant-le-gérondif rule.

Mr. Gailey ranks more blameworthy. He makes more money than Mr. Trigaux. My rule says to blame the better-paid guy for grammar mess-ups more sternly because he probably enjoya social promotion not based on merit. One won’t find my blame rule cited in any grammar book, but that absence does not make the rule any less cogent.

Both writers suffer wordiness exacerbated by passive-verb addiction. Grammar checkers will give a percentage of passive verbs but don’t tell how to correct them. A writer can identify passive verbs him- or herself: They are always verb phases, always have the past participle as main verb, and always feature a form of “to be” as a helping verb. To get rid passive verbs, one takes the subject from the “by phrase,” expressed or understood: The cat was chased (by the dog). The dog chased the cat.

Besides causing wordiness, passive verbs blunt the force of a sentence. Flabby style results.

Newspapers' exotic use of single quotation marks puzzles. Besides, a movie (below) gets italics. There is no excuse for newspapers not to use italics except reluctance to change. One understands that italics were tough to do on those what-cha-ma-callit type-setting machines. But that excuse disappears with the computer keyboard.

'Enron' is a tale that resonates


That's the same state brought to its knees by waves of power blackouts that critics claim were caused by Enron (and some other energy companies) manipulating the supply and price of electricity in the western United States to maximize company profits. 41 words

Enron’s…companies’ manipulating

Edit: Waves of power blackouts brought this state to its knees. Critics claim Enron and other energy companies manipulated supply and price of electricity to maximize profits. 26 words: 10 and 16

Putting in a good word for the French Series


Will it lead to my name being added to the no-fly list or a flag on my passport? 18 words

name’s being

Edit: Will the mistake put me on the no-fly list or flag my passport? 13 words

Mr. Gailey makes the same possessive-before-gerund error in an article cited in Buzzflash as being by a “lobotomized” journalist who cannibalizes his own:

By Monday, the big news was the editor of Newsweek retracting and apologizing for the story.

Newsweek’s retracting

Here's an Example of How the Mainsteam Media Has Been Lobotomized. Columnist for Florida Paper Admits that Busheviks Used Torture and Humiliation of Muslim Faith Beliefs. He Admits That Prisoners Say the Koran Was Abused. He Admits that a Pentagon Source Told Newsweek the Same. He Admits the Photographic documentation of Abuse. Then He Castigates Not the Bush Administration, But Newsweek. Say What? What are the Chances that Soldiers, Under the Administration-Admitted "Humiliate Them In Anyway" and Torture Interrogation Methods Did Not Abuse the Koran? About 0-1%, And That Would be Giving the Bush Administration the Benefit of the Doubt.

Keith Olbermann Nails the Newsweek Scapegoating on An Administration that Has Conducted a "Crusade" Against Islam in the Guise of a Hundred Different Lies. The Administration Saw the Newsweek Article and Didn't Deny the Koran Assertion. The Mainstream Press Eats Its Own on Cue from the White House.


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