Following up on my colleague Ben Yagoda’s post on the latest battle in the –iptivist language wars, I’d like to play a game, or take a survey—call it what you will. Below is a fairly random selection of sentences from The New York Times, a publication chosen mostly because I read it every day. (Not out of elitism, but because I live not far from New York, and because it contains some of the best newspaper writing in the country.) Because these sentences were published in one of the “registers” to which Ben referred, I suspect they rub some folks the wrong way. But maybe not. Here they are, with various options for your response:
1 = This sentence commits an egregious grammatical, vocabulary, or syntactical blunder, and the copy editor should be chastised if not fired.
2 = This sentence contains a grammatical, vocabulary, or syntactical error that is a symptom of our laissez-faire attitude toward such things these days. It annoys me, but there’s no point firing anyone.
3 = This sentence contains poor grammatical, vocab, or syntactical choices, but who cares? The meaning is clear.
4 = This sentence manifests certain grammatical, vocab, and syntactical choices on the part of the author or editor that don’t follow textbook “rules”; but they are not mistakes, since these so-called rules are arbitrary.
5 = I don’t see what problem anyone might find with this sentence.
|4/9: Technology||Which begs the perennial question of Silicon Valley: Is this more evidence, convincing evidence, that the tech industry is again on the verge of another bubble popping?|
|5/2: Opinionator||Arizona police may arrest, without a warrant, anyone whom they have probable cause to believe has committed “any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.”|
|Poring over the argument transcript and the briefs, what finally came through as most deeply troubling was this: . . .|
|5/6: Magazine||We’ve heard them giving defensive testimony in Congressional hearings or issuing anodyne statements flanked by lawyers and image consultants.|
|If anybody was going to be shy with a reporter, I figured, it was him.|
|5/8: Editorial||He began his remarks by saying Mr. Obama sets these policies, not him.|
|5/8: Arts||Her charm comes in part from her relatability, which is used to ample effect in her next film.|
|5/13: Sunday Review||She was won over by faculty and admissions staff members who urge students to pursue their dreams rather than obsess on the sticker price.|
Please register your choices! And if you have other such sentences to submit for consideration, I’m sure commenters will be eager for more material over which (on which?) to obsess.
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