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Unheard melodies are sweeter

A correspondent, responding to my post on excesses in prose, forwards a couple of prime examples. Names of the authors have been suppressed, because publication of their work constitutes a failure of their editors to perform their function.

First, we have someone who has read Keats, or perhaps just got hold of a copy of Bartlett’s:

If John Keats is to be believed, the Olathe South girls basketball team's 46-40 upset Monday night against previously unbeaten Shawnee Mission West will be a joy forever.

It was, after all, a thing of beauty to watch.

Regrettable as this mismatch is — Keats’ vision of the eternal beauty of art put into the service of an adolescent basketball game — it is at least relatively concise. Our second example carries us on an extended, labored trek through pop culture references to a profound anticlimax:

There have been five Superman movies made since the late 1970s, with the most recent in 2006 entitled "Superman Returns."

Since the action hero was introduced in the 1930s comic book series, we've always held out this hope that we'll find our own Superman to cheer for.

Wait no longer. We have discovered him.

Three years ago, he arrived in Gainesville, Fla., with his cape in hand and super powers about to be put on display. We just didn't know it at the time.

Introducing Superman, alias Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, a.k.a. Tim Tebow — quarterback, University of Florida Gators.

Editors, please, you have a duty to protect these people from themselves.



Posted by John McIntyre at 8:59 AM | | Comments (1)


Ah, but your examples are Sports articles. I have never felt that the Sports pages were bound by the rules of language and grammar.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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