Day 2 of All the News That’s Fit To Blog is actually from of the New York Times blogs, After Deadline, that (which?) “examines questions of grammar, usage and style encountered by writers and editors of The Times.” This feature in the Times highlights actual newsroom critique by the editor in charge of the Time’s Style Manual and focuses on topics such as the recurring problems of using colloquial language, using less when you mean fewer, and the dreaded whom issue.
I’m frightfully horrid at grammar. I learned to read when I wasn’t quite 3, and used my above average reading skills to fake my way through English class by picking the “correct” sentences and avoiding learning any official rules of grammar. Since I primarily make my living by writing (grants, newsletter articles, websites, reports), it’s simply shameful that I split infinitives and end sentences with prepositions. I typically write with more proper form than I speak, but I’m still an embarrassment to fine grammarians everywhere.
I’m posting the bulk of the article below, but here’s the original post.
The After Deadline Quiz
You be the editor. Find the problems of grammar or usage in these passages from recent final editions of The Times.
Of course, there are many ways one might try to improve some of these sentences. But for this quiz, I’m focusing on what I see as clear-cut errors in language use. Regular readers of After Deadline will notice many old favorites among the lapses, along with a few new twists.
I also included one passage that looked all right to me, to test for what we call “itchy-cursor syndrome” — the editor’s urge to make changes even if no change is needed.
Answers will be posted tomorrow.
1. Manny Ramírez also fits the description of a future Hall of Famer without a team, but his situation is different. Ramírez, 36, is still one of the best hitters in baseball and is hoping for a multiyear contract that will pay him about $25 million a year. He could have signed by now, he just wants a more significant paycheck to do so.
2. The proportion of adults reading some kind of so-called literary work — just over half — is still not as high as it was in 1982 or 1992, and the proportion of adults reading poetry and drama continued to decline. Nevertheless the proportion of overall literary reading increased among virtually all age groups, ethnic and demographic categories since 2002. It increased most dramatically among 18-to-24-year-olds, who had previously shown the most significant declines.
3. Purchased by investors at the height of the real estate boom in 2006, the management’s conversion plan appears unrealistic about meeting its sales and revenue goals, one lender is quoted as saying in court documents in the lawsuit between the owners. That lender, Apollo Real Estate Advisors, could begin foreclosure on Thursday if the owners do not resolve their internal dispute, one group of investors says in the court papers.
4. It remains difficult to tease out which disabilities come from the illness as opposed to the I.C.U. stay, but scientists are beginning to worry about the effects of simply being in an intensive care unit … They have been particularly surprised by how quickly patients had lost strength. Now, it looks like what was lost may not completely come back, even years later.
“We are in the infancy of trying to figure this out,’’ Dr. Morris said.
5. MOSCOW — The feud between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas prices and transit fees has left large swaths of Europe without heat. Yet, what is baffling is that the dispute has always seemed overly technical and easily resolved, if there was the slightest desire on either side. After all, both countries stand to profit from selling fuel to Europe.
6. The novel’s pseudonymous author, Pauline Réage, kept her identity to herself until 1994, when she revealed herself to be a French journalist, editor and translator named Dominique Aury. The translator also went by a pseudonym, Sabine d’Estrée, whom some literary sleuths long suspected was Mr. Seaver, though he never admitted to it.
7. Senate Democrats are watching to see if Republicans keep their amendments relevant. One proposed Thursday by Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, was viewed by Democrats as a way to torpedo the bill with antiunion language. The amendment was defeated easily, 59 to 38 — an outcome that illustrates the new Democratic muscle.
8. “We did not choose but it was chosen for us that we would come together at this moment,’’ said the Rev. Alisa Lasater, the pastor of Capitol Hill United Methodist Church. “If we want to be the heart of our community, we need to learn to see into each others’ heart.’’
9. Lately he [Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle] has made a concerted effort to tone down his language, and he insists that he has delegated much authority, but the heart of his message has not changed. Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill’s seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city.
10. BOSTON — The only company charged with manslaughter after a woman died in a Big Dig tunnel collapse in 2006 has agreed to pay the state and city $16 million in exchange for the charge being dropped.