or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Here's a sentence from a fascinating new Slate.com series about surviving various disasters:

A quick walk through your home will reveal countless objects that a moderate earthquake could transform into dangerous sorties.


This is just an odd, odd usage that I can't believe an editor didn't catch and dispatch, assuming there are any editors at hand.

A sortie isn't a missile. It's an armed assault by a single plane. I've been tossing the sentence around in my head and it just doesn't work: another verb-preposition pair might have done the trick, say "launch on" rather than "transform into", but if it had been me, I would have changed the noun: "missiles", probably, or perhaps (in an extended, not literal, but well-established sense) "shrapnel".

"Sortie", by the way, is from French "sortir", "to leave", since a military plane leaves the base on its solo mission.


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