or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I am surrounded by wrongness. It is my own personal hell.


I suppose it was yesterday morning we were just kind of hanging around flipping through the channels--it was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada--and of course there was some news story about some murdered woman, because the news cycle just isn't complete if there isn't a story (but only one) about some (attractive, Caucasian, preferably blonde, preferably young) woman who's been murdered or, even better, is missing and presumed murdered. I would have ignored the thing altogether if I hadn't been so shocked at the caption under at the bottom of the screen:


Co-ed? Does anyone on the face of the Earth still use that noun?

It was already demeaning when it was invented about a hundred years ago. Logically it ought to have referred to both men and women being educated together, rather than in separate schools; but for some reason it meant only the women, which gave it an air of sneering condescension. (Young men were students, even scholars; young women were merely co-eds.) It never did shake this sense; "co-ed" has long, perhaps always, had a sense of a silly girl playing at being a student until she lands a husband. By the seventies it was feeling very dated, and I'm astonished that it's still used at all.


This from the utterly wonderful Mocoloco.com, a website about modern design:

Inspired by nature and the luminous effects of light filtering through the leaves of the plants, the chandelier is made of a single bended aluminium sheet that, when assembled in diverse directions, reflects the light differently.

Oh, dear. Remember last Thursday and again on Friday when I was going on about irregular past participles? "Bent" is one of them, and it's virtually always the correct choice. It's true that "bended" exists in English, but it does so in the most limited possible manner; as part of one single idiomatic and poetical phrase, "on bended knee", which is how someone prays or proposes marriage. That aluminum chandelier? "Bent", not "bended".


I was reading the CBS website about the show "Threshold", which I've never watched but keep meaning to, because the premise is mildly interesting through completely unbelievable, because Carla Gugino is an intriguing actress, and also because Peter Dinklage in a goatee? Hot. And right there on the site's show description is the following sentence:

Together, they decipher the intention of the craft, the fate of the ship's crew and begin preparations for the possibility of a crisis situation--an alien invasion.

No. No, no, no, no, no. Parallel structure isn't that hard to accomplish--it's well within the grasp of your average writer, and whoever wrote the text for the website is certainly being paid for it and therefore is a professional, and shame on them. Either chuck a verb in at the beginning of the second clause ("determine the fate of the ship's crew") so that each of the three clauses has its own verb, or structure the whole thing so that "decipher" works as the verb for all three clauses. You don't get to use the same verb for two of them and suddenly switch gears. It's all or nothing.


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