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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Great Moments in Dubious Editing

I don't know what it is with Times' editors and their penchant for allowing alliteration.  Today, we read of Japan adopting a "radical policy path after years of political paralysis."  Am I too persnickety?  Well, OK, yes.  But still!  Am I the only one who feels certain effects stick out like the proverbial sore thumb?  (And why do people stick out their sore thumbs?  Shouldn't they keep sore thumbs tucked away so they don't bump into things?)

I once employed a writing tutor who fancied himself a great stylist.  He'd had articles published in local newspapers, alumni newsletters, and similar venues.  He took great pride in showing me his pieces.  And while these were always written competently--which came as a relief to this supervisor, at least--this man had the most compulsive need to alliterate that I have ever seen.  It didn't matter what he was writing: an opinion piece for the college paper, a humorous story, a eulogy.  Practically every other sentence would feature forced formations of plodding purple prose.  I could tell he took great pride in what he doubtlessly deemed riveting writing.  And no matter how earnestly I endeavored to enjoin him to eschew this stretching and straining for effects at best empty and at worst emetic, he would simply smile sweetly and soldier on. 

If you're feeling the urge to punch someone in the face, welcome to my world.

As a writing teacher, I enjoy working with students who write well and come to me in search of greater knowledge.  I find it rewarding working with people who don't write well and who show improvement after a course of instruction.  But working with people who think they know how to write can be nothing short of exasperating.  So says the Solipsist.

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