Thursday, August 30, 2007


An absolute adjective is an adjective with a meaning that is generally not capable of being intensified or compared, such as perfect, fatal, or square. I found this definition in Understanding English Grammar (the text for ENG 408).

"Which is more fatal, an ant bite or falling off a cliff?" That's wrong right?

So how about "Which is fatal, an ant bite or falling off a cliff?"

Honolulu Advertiser Article - Gwen Stefani Concert Feature

Last week I went to see Gwen Stefani's concert at the Blaisdell with my boyfriend. Afterwards, I looked up the write-up on the Advertiser's website. On the whole, the article wasn't badly written, I guess, although I think the writer/editor could certainly stand to trim a lot of the fat.

Take the headline, for instance, which is probably not the writer's doing, but anyway..."Dance pop mega-star Stefani thrills younger fans" ... Dance pop mega-star. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? I wasn't too crazy about the lede, either:

Add this to the list of things you don't see in Hawai'i everyday: A 37-year-old girl from Orange County, Calif., with dyed platinum blond hair leading a sold-out Blaisdell Arena crowd in the chant, "This (expletive) is bananas ... b-a-n-a-n-a-s!"

Sure, it paints a picture, but my first image is of Gwen Stefani tossing her hair around back and forth to lead a crowd in chant like an orchestra conductor, until I realize that the subject of the sentence is supposed to be the 37-year-old "girl" and not her hair. Although maybe I'm just being overly picky.

But the real zinger for me was the closing sentence, which I think should definitely be paid special attention, since it is a feature story and not a news story: "Until she returns to Hawai'i with No Doubt — writer crosses his fingers here — this would have to do."

First of all, the verb tense is not consistent. Until she returns, this will have to do. Second of all, since the "writer" consistently uses "I" throughout the article, why suddenly switch to the third person? It makes it seem like he's got some kind of split personality disorder. And I don't even think I would keep the random interjection there in the first place. It only tells me, the reader, that this writer seems to be a Stefani fanboy, although he spends the majority of the second half of the article criticizing aspects of her performance.

And why does he use the word "culled" twice in the article? Did his friend give him a 365 SAT Words page-a-day calendar for Christmas or something?

Anyway, so those are the things that particularly bothered me in this article.

Oh, and this is entirely unrelated, but why the heck do the articles in Advertiser's website always have random title tags that don't match the article? They seem to change from day to day, too, so that when you bookmark them, you get one random title as the default bookmark name, and then when you access the URL later, it's a completely different, yet still incorrect, title. For instance, when I bookmarked this article, the title tag (seen at the top of your browser window) was, "Bill would violate Constitution, create dangerous division", and now it says, "Okinawan culture taking center stage" (don't you love the random capitalization, too?). My guess is that by the time you guys click on the article, it'll be an entirely different title.

Man I wish they'd hire me for their web team. ;)

ETA: I only realized now that in the lede where it says, "Add this to the list of things you don't see in Hawai'i everyday...", it says everyday and not every *space* day. I guess it was a crash and burn from the beginning, huh? Haha, I'm only kidding. But that is another error. :P

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A good start!

Mitchell, Don, and Ryan have gotten us off to a good, strong start. I'm going to print out their posts so that we can talk about them in class. Thank you, guys :)

Fighting Fires and Bad Grammar

Hello, everyone. This is a quote from a short editorial in Tuesday's Advertiser titled Many helped in effort to fight Wailua fire: “This dynamic fire evolved daily, and was fueled by dry and windy conditions, which created havoc and dangerous conditions for firefighters and threatened nearby homes. In the end, residential areas were protected, the fire was contained and injuries were minimized.” I see a number of problems here, beginning with the adjective “dynamic”. Does anyone really think of a wildfire as being static? Probably not, so there's no need to remind us that it isn't. Havoc is similarly inherent to wildfires, and--in my opinion--the term is a bit too general to warrant being used in an article without some further description or quantification (e.g. “the fire caused such havoc that even Godzilla was trampled while trying to escape”). To finish the first sentence off, there are four “ands” in the sentence, and the word “conditions” occurs twice in rapid succession. Thankfully the second sentence is a lot better, but I'd still switch around the order of the clauses to give them a more logical sense of progression. My shot at rewriting it looks like this: “This fire, fueled by dry and windy conditions, grew stronger daily until it threatened the safety of both firefighters and nearby homes. In the end, the fire was contained, residential areas were protected and injuries were minimized.” If you haven't fallen asleep yet, then thanks for reading and I'll see you on Friday.

Misplaced Modifiers

According to CliffsStudySolver™ English Grammar, misplaced modifiers are words or phrases that when read in the context of a sentence lend confusion, not clarity, to the meaning. Here is an example:

Incorrect: Having entered the theatre, the smell of popcorn overwhelmed us.

(The smell of popcorn entered the theatre?)

Correct: As we entered the theatre, the smell of popcorn overwhelmed us.

First Blog

Hey everyone hope you all are having a good week so far. So this will be my first installment for the required weekly blogs. I would like to comment on the newspaper article that we looked at in class last Friday which is entitled Procrastination nation. While reading the article I was quite alarmed that it was actually printed in the Star-Bulletin. Not so much for the content, but I was flabbergasted to see the incredible amount of errors that consumed the short article. I understood the gist of the article and what Sakoda was trying to get across. However, the grammatical aspect and the lack of editing made the article a hard read for myself. As writers we can't say that we're absolutely perfect when it comes to our own writing. I've accepted that fact because of the insane amount of editing that i've had to do to my papers over the years. I'd like to focus on a paragraph towards the end of the articles which reads, "Our neighbor lost her spouse, I will bring over dinner for them to enjoy and spend some time with them. Under LDI, I see his child coming over for a visit once and awhile. Maybe they do not need the company." Since we are in an editing class I will try my best to try to fix this passage. I would write it like this, "Our neighbor has recently lost her spouse and I will try my best to ensure that her transition period will become smooth. Perhaps her child will stop by and visit her once and awhile. However, losing ones spouse is one of the hardest things in life to deal with and I will let her decide if she wants my company or not." I'm not sure if my edit sounds better or not but it's something that I would write if I was in his situation. Thanks for reading and i'll see you on Friday.

Monday, August 27, 2007


A friend sent me this link, saying, "By the way, if anyone in your class is interested in nibbling linguistics, I thought this article, 'Correct American Gatekeeping,' from the PBS show Do You Speak American? was easy to get into. It's another perspective on an already complicated issue." Click on the title of this post to be taken to the article.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Editor Wanted

From Honolulu Weekly's website:

This progressive weekly is well known and respected for its prize winning political, environmental and community reporting. Candidates should have a degree in journalism or related field, as well as extensive publication experience and strong editing skills. They should be familiar with AP style, have management experience and the desire to create a great newspaper. The timid or the thin-skinned need not apply. The Weekly is produced by a three person editorial staff and relies on heavily freelance writers. Thus, experience recruiting, grooming and retaining freelancers will come in handy. Job requirements: Keep to a budget, edit and assign (and write) stories, manage the staff and put out the paper of choice for Honolulu's opinion makers and scenesters. The rewards: decent pay, a dependable, loyal staff, and the satisfaction of creating an independent and unique newspaper for Honolulu. Send cover letter, resume and references to

Monday, August 13, 2007


Those interested in finding out more about the English 408 instructor can click on the title of this post.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Praise for Editors

My former student Sara, now working for a Hawai‘i magazine, told me about this piece by Gary Kamiya. It's worth reading by every student and practitioner of copyediting; just click on the title of this post to be taken there.