Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Before the ball was over

I hope this is one an editor missed, because the alternative -- it's one an editor inserted -- would be a sign of the End Times.

How do things like "but not after enduring a wild few days that started with a sudden cancellation of the whole program by Wayne County Community College District" go wrong? Hard to say. but it looks like shifting gears in mid-thought. A clause took shape on the screen, and somebody thought "well, of course she couldn't have gone back to class before the turmoil," and the poor little "but not" went unnoticed.

The nice folks we used to call "copy editors" did lots of stuff beyond memorizing the strange set of secret handshakes that made up the AP's rules for abbreviating states and thoroughfares. Sometimes it was pointing out what "before" and "after" mean. Sometimes (with the advent of searchable databases) it was noting that we've only used "kaput" a couple times a year in recent decades, and maybe a story about Bureaucracy Gone Wild isn't the place to bring it out.* And no matter how correct a sentence like this might be:

But that left the nearly 20 students who thought they’d be starting the program this year, only to learn less than seven hours before the start of class that the program had been dropped, still up in the air.**

... they'd point out that there's a lot too much real estate between "left the nearly 20 students" and "still up in the air." That's actually a form of added value, if you're wondering whether to keep some remnant of your editing staff.

* No, I don't think it's "wrong," and yes, Those Kids wouldn't be hurt if they had to look up an unfamiliar word every now and then. This is a personal peeve that you might not share, but I think "kaput" here is an affectation, and I'd be disappointed not to find the Katzenjammer Kids on the funny pages after running across it. So there.
** That one actually gets worse online: But that left the nearly 20 students who thought they’d be starting the program this year, only to learn less than seven hours before the start of class that the program had been dropped and they had been withdrawn from classes still up in the air — at least until later in the day Tuesday.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Theophylact said...

Still, "but only after" or "but not until after" would have done the job, had an editor been on the job.

11:14 AM, August 20, 2015  

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