or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, January 22, 2007


This mildly horrifying Slate.com story about those parents who've surgically altered their mentally defective daughter so she'll never grow up provides a link to this somewhat less horrifying New York Times story about women who have various unpleasant surgeries so that they can wear, or as a consequence of years of wearing, high-heeled shoes. The NYT story contains the following sentence:

Dr. Levine has medium-length blond hair, a striking resemblance to the singer Deborah Harry, and often wears fashionable high heels.

What the fuck is wrong with the editors at the New York Times? If they're not even bothering to ensure the most basic of parallel structure, then why should anyone else? The NYT is supposed to be some sort of standard-bearer of good writing, second in reputation only to the New Yorker, and they let a stupid, obvious error like this creep in?

For the millionth time, here's the rule: if a list of clauses is preceded by a verb, then either each element has its own verb, or you use one verb for all the clauses. No in-betweens, ever. Ever! You can use the implicit verb "has" for the third clause ("...and a propensity for wearing fashionable high heels") to match the implicit verb in the second, or you can give each clause a new verb ("...bears a striking resemblance..."), or, hell, you can even put "and" between the first two items and make them a list by themselves, which gives you free rein to chuck a new verb into the third clause.

The one thing you can't do is the thing they did.


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