So it seems that the Grammar Cop gave our friendly local weekly, THE SUBURBAN, a couple of weeks off. Time to catch up with it now!
All three errors today come from the same article. (The Grammar Cop was a tad lazy; what can I say.)
- “When trying to imagine a personification for classical music, images of serious musicians dressed in black with an almost military-like level of precision in their playing often come to the collective mind.” Whew! Really? For starters, just to give you context, that is the opening sentence in an article about a small orchestral ensemble. Let’s dissect it. “…(A) personification for classical music…”? What on earth does that mean? This sounds as though it was written by someone who is completely unfamiliar with English. (Then why is he/she writing for a newspaper? And where is the editor?) The phrase is meaningless. Much simpler and clearer would have been: “When one thinks of classical music…” (…if that’s what was intended!)
- In the same sentence, the author goes on: “…images of serious musicians dressed in black with an almost military-like level of precision in their playing often come to the collective mind.” This is beyond-horrible writing. First of all, since the word “images” is apparently the subject of the sentence, it makes the first phrase (in number 1 above) into a dangling modifier. It’s not the “images” that are “trying to imagine” anything. It’s you, presumably. Then we have those “serious musicians” etc. etc. – is such purple prose really necessary? The sentence winds on way too long. It’s another one of those instances where, by the time you get to the end, you have to reread the whole thing since you’ve forgotten the sense of it. (And in this case, rereading isn’t even much help.) To edit the sentence my way: “When one thinks of classical music, one tends to picture serious musicians dressed in formal attire, playing in careful, measured tones.” But that’s just me.
- Here’s another abomination: “His Ensemble* is no different, even though it includes amateur musicians who have been honing their craft for years, but doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals who share and exude a similar passion for music.” Come again? The sentence is unclear. My guess is that it should probably look something like this: “His Ensemble is no different. The members – amateur musicians who have been honing their craft for years – include doctors, lawyers and engineers who share a similar passion for music.” If they share the passion, I’m going to assume they also “exude” it. Note that I’m not big on excess verbiage. 😉
There’s actually one more bad sentence in this barely 800-word piece, but I will take pity on you now.
*Ensemble is capitalized because it’s part of the name of this orchestra.