Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Written Language Foibles

I am accused sometimes - mostly by my wife - of being "Mr. Language Person" because I spot and comment on potentially odd phrases in written or spoken words. I saw this one this morning:
SEATTLE — The FBI is analyzing a torn, tangled parachute found buried by children in southwest Washington to determine whether it might have been used by famed plane hijacker D.B. Cooper, the agency said Tuesday.


I know what this is meant to say, but it could be read three ways, two of them unintended:
- The way it is meant, that the children found it.
- That there were children buried nearby (ewww).
- That the children buried it.

I don't know why I notice those things, but I do.

UPDATE: The version published in my local paper reads:
SEATTLE — The FBI is analyzing a torn, tangled parachute that children found buried in southwest Washington to determine whether it might have been used by famed plane hijacker D.B. Cooper, the agency said Tuesday.


Much more clear that way.

1 comment:

Ben Langhinrichs said...

It certainly is an awkward turn of phrase.