or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


It's a pretty basic quality of English: if you apply a descriptor--an adjective or an adverb--to a list of things, or to a noun or verb that encompasses a list of things, then that descriptor applies to every item in the list. "Everything about the place was unclean: the floors, the furniture, and especially the bathroom." "She was immaculately presented, from her hair and nails to her expensive dress." It's not an abstruse point of grammar; it's obvious.

So I was startled to read the following sentence in a Washington Post story about the pricey American Girl doll line:

Addy is an African American girl who escaped from slavery at the time of the Civil War but keeps $20 accessories, including a gourd, a cowrie shell necklace and a $70 desk.

A seventy-dollar desk is a not a twenty-dollar accessory. Jeez.

Here's a bit of advice to Washington Post editors, and editors in general: You can't edit something you haven't actually read. Pay attention!


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