Sunday, January 3, 2016

Unintended Humor

I honestly do not spend my days scouring publications for errors of grammar, syntax and word meanings.  Regular readers will attest that, in fact, I would make a terrible copy editor.

So when stupid writing jumps out at me, you know it's bad.

Here are a few unfortunate sentences I noticed in reputable newspapers and magazines within the last week or so, along with a few comments.

The It's-Its Challenge

"A report by Citron Research . . .  reveals more information about Philidor and it’s network 'of phantom captive pharmacies.'"

"It's leaders say they will never serve any jail time, will not surrender their weapons . . . ."

        Here's a fun sentence to share with friends who cannot distinguish between "it's" 
        and "its" and who also ignore helpful hints from smarter spell-check programs. 
  "It's a wise dog that scratches its own fleas."

Pronoun Problems

"...Gena owned the house, 'free and clear,' she said, a claim verified by a title company who investigated the title."

        No matter your view on Citizens United, a company is not a "who;"  the company in 
        this situation is a "that."

". . . Saban's teams have struggled against the athletic signal-callers that have started to revolutionize college football."

        Until universities field robotic football teams, signal callers will continue to be humans 
        and, on second reference, should be referred to as "who" and not "that." 

". . . it is the fault of. . .  or . . . an insular, tax-exempt religious organization, who had promised to fix the parks but never did."

        Who is that religion, anyway?

"Even if you purchase a headstone or grave marker from the cemetery, they may charge you a fee for installing the marker on the. . . ."

        True, there are many people, dead ones, in cemeteries, but that doesn't make a 
        cemetery a "they."  A cemetery is an "it."


I Don't Believe They Said These Things

"Mr. Ambrose described the situation as 'a director's worse nightmare' but said . . . ."

"He said that she had back injuries, including a spinal chord injury and that she had to postpone her studies at Princeton University for a semester."

"'After four years of litigation, the district was able to affect a nominal settlement that was in the best interest of the district,' he said."

Completely Garbled

"A former standout athlete at Asbury Park High School, community members, friends and former coaches are reeling from the loss of a man they thought was immune to the mayhem that surrounds them."

        This sentence should come with a special decoder, but I was able to unravel it
        after several readings.  It only works if broken in two.  "The deceased was a 
        former standout athlete. . . . Community members, friends and former coaches
        are reeling from the loss . . . . "

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