Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Elongated-yellow fruit

When in-doubt, about? A punctuation question; "the" first step should! not be to slap hyphens between words because there's a noun in the neighborhood:

An article on Friday about the blunt-speaking style of Susan E. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, who withdrew from consideration as a possible nominee for secretary of state, described incorrectly her participation in President Obama’s pastime of basketball. She has dribbled the ball and taken shots in his presence, but she is not one of the few women invited to compete in his pickup games

It's true that both noun-participle ("man-eating") and modifier-participle ("smooth-talking") compounds are hyphenated, but "blunt-speaking" is neither of them here.
Dr. Rice doesn't have a style that is blunt-speaking; she has a speaking style that is blunt. The Times could attribute a blunt style to the blunt-speaking Dr. Rice, but it should file "blunt-speaking style" with "elongated-yellow fruit."

Interesting day in the corrections:

Because of an editing error, an article on Monday about scholars who study paperwork misstated, in some editions, a word used by Craig Robertson, an associate professor of media and screen studies at Northeastern University, to describe a phenomenon exemplified by the history of the filing cabinet and the passport. He said they were part of the “paperization” of everyday life in the early 20th century, not the “pauperization.”

Sounds like a telephone error, but in this case, "editing error" seems closer to the mark; "pauperization" is Word's suggestion for the "not in dictionary" word "paperization." It'd be interesting to know where in the editing chain the sorcerer's apprentice turned his or her back and let the machine run unsupervised.

And if you thought there was a lot of embedding in that first sentence, have a taste of the real stuff:

An article on Dec. 6 about the role in Greek’s economic troubles played by a handful of the country’s wealthy magnates, their families, politicians and the news media — often owned by the magnates — misidentified the relationship between a board member of Omega Bank, whose successor was later bought by the magnate Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, to Evangelos Venizelos, a former Greek finance minister and the current leader of the country’s Socialist Party.

That 70-word gem weighs in at 32.9 on the Flesch-Kincaid "grade level" test. Sometimes I think the Times just does this so people will fall asleep before they get to the error itself. Maybe it should adopt a more blunt-speaking manner.

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Anonymous bobell said...

'Ja happen to notice that "described incorrectly" in the story? Not an infinitive anywhere in sight, and still the adverb lands in the wrong -- well, okay, unidiomatic -- spot.

1:54 PM, December 19, 2012  

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