Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Again with the Grammar Nazi

Two posts in a row on this! This sort of thing just drives me crazy!

From my local online paper:

The bishops discussed their failure to convincingly impress upon the country's 67 million Catholics the church's teaching that abortion (and, by extension, embryonic stem cell research) is "intrinsically evil" and must be the pre-eminent issue — above even than the economy — Catholics carried with them into the voting booth. [emphasis mine]

With a great amount of effort, I am going to put aside my feelings on the message of the sentence as a whole and focus on the grammar issue here. Above even than the economy? I think they mean 'above even the economy', or 'even more than the economy'. I am not sure if the issue is that the writer's grasp of English is that bad that he doesn't know the phrases, or if it is a editing issue, and I am not sure which is worse. I am guessing, though, that this is a careless editing mistake--switching from 'even more than the economy' to 'above even the economy' and forgetting to erase the 'than'.

Now, I do this sort of thing all the time in conversation. I have both phrases in mind, and I come out with a combination of them. But that's in casual conversation, not in a professional article that I wrote down, read over, and submitted to an editor. And, I wouldn't even care as much about it in the paper if it were a fluke (although I would still notice, because I am that kind of a picky person), but it's not, as evidenced by my second post in a row on this. I could come up with more examples off the top of my head, but I will spare you for now. I am sure there will be more examples to infuriate me soon, ;-).


Argh! I really don't go looking for errors on my local paper's website. I only read articles that I am interested in, and I am not trying to proofread them as I go. These things jump out at me, because they are so obvious and sometimes they are actually confusing. Here's another one, from a photo caption:

Michael Gerstner comforts Lisa Kaucher, a close friend, of his brother Mark Gerstner, who was remembered during a candle light vigil outside Steak N' Shake Tuesday night.

What is so hard about using commas properly? Putting 'a close friend' in commas makes it seem that Lisa is a close friend of Michael, but the sentence then goes on to say 'of his brother Mark', which means 'a close friend of his brother Mark Gerstner' is actually the phrase that goes together. As you can tell here, I am not an English teacher, and I don't know the technical terms that describe all of these grammar rules, but I know how to use English nonetheless. Why don't the people who get paid to work with words know how to use it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow your ugly too.