Flip Through

Friday, December 08, 2006

A blank shade of pencil-gray

I may be having a Claire Cooney moment. Is this or is this not the 'awkardest sentence alive'?

"Annan, who will be succeeded by South Korean Ban Ki-Moon, questions whether he has succeeded during his decade in the job in making human rights the "third pillar" of the United Nations, on a par with development and peace and security."

That's from a CNN article wherein Kofi Annan bashed...mm...the entire free world for doing nothing much about the troubles in Darfur. Well, I'm all for the UN Secretary opening up a can; that's not the point. The point is, the author clearly does not subscribe to rules of grammar or even logic. For one thing, if the "pillars" of the United Nations are development and peace and security, then wouldn't human rights be the FOURTH pillar? Furthermore, just look at that verb repetition: 'succeeded' TWICE in one sentence, just ten words apart! A clear-cut no-no; come on, people, that's what we have thesaurii for. Then there's the case of "on a par with"--no, not strictly against the rules, but a clinker all the same. Why's that "a" chilling there? No "a" is needed in that sentence; "on par with" makes just as much sense and flows even better.

The silly thing is, I'm not even good at grammar. I never learned my participles, complements, or the purpose of an auxiliary verb. I couldn't identify the subjunctive to save my life, and sentence-diagramming was the only English quiz I ever failed. But even I can see that CNN needs to buy a nice OED (unabridged, please) and head back to 9th grade Language Arts. Where do people get off teaching English like it doesn't matter, like it has no utility? Language is the basis of our society, whether we like it or not, and since we have to be able to communicate, would it kill us to communicate efficiently, fluidly, even elegantly? Why is there no longer any joy taken in the kick and flow of words?

Grammar, spelling, sentence construction, and even reading are all headed downhill in a greased handcart. Books are going the way of the Dodo. Ladies and gents, the Apocalypse of the literate will commence momentarily.
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