Monday, February 25, 2008

Les Girls Collins and Dowd Cuff Around Grammmar and Punctuation

Gloria and Lee at an early '70s conference in Houston

Op-Ed Columnist

Captive to History’s Caprice


Published: February 17, 2008

he is just giving false Hopi...

Strunk & White pleads with us not to use superfluous adverbs.

The passionate palaver about Hillary versus Barry rages on, with each side certain it is right about our fate if we end up with a President Obama or another President Clinton.

The comma after “rages” is redundant: it cuts off a restrictive trailing adverbial clause. You have a better sentence if you dump the redundant adverb "on."

She could simply say he’s all cage and no bird.

Redundant adverb should disappear : Strunk & White.

But is she right, that he’d be a callow leader, too trusting of Republicans, dictators and terrorists?

The redundant comma after “right” cuts off a restrictive adverbial clause modifying the predicate adjective “right.” "That” clauses are almost always restrictive.

Is Bill right, that voters should not be swayed by eloquence and excitement? (Unless he’s running.)

The comma after “right” is wrong for the same reason as above.

The parenthetical “unless he’s running” is not a sentence so should not have a capital or period inside the parentheses. Solution:” …excitement (unless he’s running). Or this would work: “…and excitement—unless he is running.”

Or is Obama right, that Hillary would ensure that the acrid mood of the last 15 years would continue to paralyze Washington, appall Americans and shrink our standing in the world?

The comma is wrong for the same reason as the above two citations.

I covered W. promising a humble foreign policy and no nation-building.

“W’s promising”: possessive before the gerund. This is the umpteenth time I have pointed out this error. Your style manual cites it.

Voters try to figure out who they trust to have life-and-death power over them

Dowd joins Collins ( below) in cuffing around the objective pronoun: “who” should be “whom,” object of the verb “trust.”

…or how they will be buffeted by the caprice of history, and the randomness of crises.

The comma after history is unneeded: it splits a compound object of the preposition “by.” The passive verb weakens the sentence: "...or how history and the radomness of crises will buffet them."

They inevitably get hit with trouble that they never could have imagined or prepared for, and that can trigger self-doubt and self-destruction and self-pity.

“Inevitably” is a redundant adverb that should go.

Why didn’t J. F. K. simply toss out the C.I.A. plan developed under Eisenhower to send 1,200 exiles to overthrow a popular Cuban leader with a force of 200,000?

“Simply” is the style-killer redundant adverb.

She knows now that being obstructionist and secretive don’t work.

Here’s a grammar felony subject-verb agreement error. The subject of the verb is one gerund phase with two adjectives “obstructionist” and “secretive” The verb should be singular:” doesn’t work.”

The Mittification of McCain
Published: February 16, 2008

The Mittification of McCain


Published: February 16, 2008

The Senate votes on a Democratic economic stimulus plan, which would give more help to the unemployed, veterans and senior citizens than the version President Bush wants.

The comma after "plan" cuts off a restrictive adjective clause unless the Democrats have had only one stimulus plan since the beginning of time.

McCain’s inconsistency is actually nothing new.

"Actually" is the redundant adverb against which Strunk & White pleads. This one makes Collins sound like a California valley girl.

McCain opposed the tax cuts as unwise and unfair, and then opposed getting rid of them under the theory that it would be a shock to the upper-income people who benefited from them and never noticed they were scheduled to expire.

The comma after "unfair" splits the compound verb "opposed" and "opposed."

…being has to remain on the books for all eternity.

My ear says dump "all"; it's wordy and spoils the music of the sentence. Somerset Maughm admitted he had no ear for the music of language. The affliction must be like my oldest's sister not being able to carry a tune. We used to run from her when we wanted to harmonize.

The senator from Arizona is clearly unhappy about the possibility of having to run against Barack Obama, who he has disliked ever since Obama had the temerity to present himself as a campaign finance reformer without McCain’s permission.

"Clearly" is the despised redundant adverb.

Ms. Collins joins Ms. Dowd in backhanding the objective case for “who.” Maybe they are trying to gain admittance to the masthead boys’ treehouse by cuffing around “whom” to sound rough and tough.

And the fact that the 46-year-old Obama keeps referring to the 71-year-old McCain as a military hero, in tones that suggest the conflict in question was the Spanish Civil War, doesn’t help.

“The fact that” is a cliché and usually inaccurate. It is here.

The commas around "in tones..War" are redundant: they cut off a restrictive adverbial prepositional phrase.

After all the questioning was over, the Democrats felt Clemens was a liar and the committee chairman called Brian McNamee, his weaselly ex-trainer, “very credible.”

This is the rare omitted comma needed before a coordinating conjunction joining two independent clauses. I know Ms. Collins is not an Aunt Tom because she wrote a good book on women’s struggle. But she must stop the "chairman" linguistic discrimination and convert it to "chair" so that we sisters can enter the language. Language not only reflects reality; it also perpetuates it.

Meanwhile, the Republicans on the committee said McNamee was an unreliable drug dealer and their leader suggested Clemens was the victim of a “lynching.”

Compound sentence needs comma after "dealer."

health care negotiations

“Health-care” should be a hyphenated adjective before a noun.

Do you wonder if this is really going to work when the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was posturing for network news and still couldn’t even agree on whether Roger Clemens is a jerk?

Two redundant adverbs blight this sentence. The first one is the deadly California valley girl patois. Dump them.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

free webpage hit counter