Thursday, January 11, 2007

More Punctuation Abuse: Swales

A Few Choice Words, Including 'Mistakes'

By Tom Shales

Thursday, January 11, 2007; Page C01

Most of the details of the speech were being reported on cable news channel and network newscasts all during the day, so it was hardly filled with surprises -- though Bush volunteering to take the blame for mistakes seemed at the very least unusual, not just for Bush but for any chief executive. Reporters and columnists suffer from passive-verb-itis. Passive verbs produce flaccid sentences and make the writer sound tentative—something the otherwise emphatic Mr. Shales appears to eschew. The NY Times Style Book cites the possessive-before-the-gerund rule, but no reporter there or anywhere pays the slightest attention to it. The Blue Shade press swashbucklers scorn a little thing like punctuation literacy, even though they purport to be professional writers and even though not knowing punctuation protocol for a writer is like not knowing how to drive a nail for a carpenter.

Mr. Shales says Durbin did a lousy Democratic-rebuttal job, but the NBC Hardball group rhapsodized about it, saying it sounded like a Republican America-Firsters’ spiel.


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