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    "Inflammation of the Sentence Structure"

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    The following sentences, which come from business magazines and newspapers, all suffer from particular grammatical or stylistic ailments. Here's your assignment: Explain the ailment in each one and then provide a cure by rewriting the sentence. (The first one has been done for you. I'll share my responses for the others in my next blog entry so we can compare notes.)

    • Regular, open, transparent two-way communication reduces feelings of isolation and powerlessness.
      • Ailment: the sentence suffers from redundancy. Don't "open," "transparent," and "two-way" pretty much mean the same thing?
      • Cure: Regular two-way communication reduces feelings of isolation and powerlessness.
    • There is no one-size-fits-all program that works for all people and all organizations.
      • Ailment:
      • Cure:
    • Real estate developers are sitting on the sidelines, absorbing losses for now and hoping to ride out the storm.
      • Ailment:
      • Cure:
    • Wisconsin will receive funds for high-speed rail, updating university infrastructures, clean water, and environmental restoration.
      • Ailment:
      • Cure:
    • During a sentence hearing, an attorney for the state argues for whatever penalty they believe is appropriate.
      • Ailment:
      • Cure:
    • As will all Packer greats, Brett's legacy will be celebrated by the fans.
      • Ailment:
      • Cure:

    Final Thought: My intention here is not to be critical of anyone. I could just as well have picked sentences from my own writing, many of which contain similar ailments. I was simply curious to see what I could find in a few periodicals, and slip-ups like these were few and far between.

    - Dave Kemper

    Note: My title, "Inflammation of the sentence structure," comes from one of my favorite James Thurber quotations: "With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and hardening of the paragraphs."