Thursday, May 07, 2009

Grammar for the naughty

Hey, kids! I bet you didn't know grammar could be this much fun!

Police say they caught a married county official having sex with another woman on the sidewalk in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

So, no peeking: Which of the two leading genders would you assign Commissioner Kim to? That depends on how you read "another woman": the Bad Country Song sense (a woman who isn't the wife of the subject), the literal sense (another in addition to the subject: Bluto and another Delta were caught stealing the exams) or the not-again sense (the dean was accused of mopery with another undergraduate).

If your answer is "So what?" -- welcome to Rewrite Club! The offense alleged here is indecent exposure, brought on by the couple's being caught "apparently having sex against a wall"* (as the AP so gently put it) outdoors at 2 in the morning. The law has an interest in stuff that scares the horses, not in who's trying out for the Country Music Hall of Fame. Stick to the events and you can not only avoid sounding unhealthily puritanical about all sorts of stuff, you get a better lede in the bargain:

A county official was caught having sex on the sidewalk at 2 a.m. on a warm*** April Saturday in the Detroit suburb of Novi, police say.

One of the nice things about grammar is that if you leave it alone for a while, the pronouns will eventually cover most of your bases for you. As, for example, when the said commissioner "tells WXYZ-TV he 'started out with good intentions' when he began walking the woman home from a bar before his actions took a wrong turn."

* Or, as a treasured newspaper mentor once said of John Jenrette:** Hey, have one on the House.
** Oh, look it up.
*** Overnight low of 50 in this part of the county. I'd say that qualifies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:44 AM, May 08, 2009  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Your first reading - that's "the other woman" usually, not "another woman", isn't it?

10:26 AM, May 08, 2009  
Blogger Theophylact said...

Don't have to look it up; I'm old enough to remember.

10:49 AM, May 08, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

I'd say it's "the" other woman if we're up to the Jolene-Jolene-Jolene stage. Before she's formally identified, I'd have to say it's "another woman," e.g.:

'Jon & Kate': Jon Gosselin says photo of him with another woman 'showed poor judgment on my part'

(Sorry to quote Hollywood Insider, but ... evidence is evidence)

The house now buys a round for Theophylact, as it's always nice to have some more folks around who remember the old days.

9:51 PM, May 08, 2009  

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