Wednesday, August 29, 2007

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.


Pat said...

Another good post. And not one from the ladies yet; come on, girls!

ceruleanjen said...

I love your analysis of this one. There are so many stylistic errors that I would not have caught that you did.