Monday, July 09, 2007

Dangling, the wordsmith left the participle

In my last, very recent post, I mentioned that I'd been working on a post about dangling modifiers. Turns out some other folks have already thought about that. So I was going to discard the whole subject; in fact, I just deleted the whole draft. But this morning, I read an article in The Daily Texan, the University of Texas's daily paper, about Troy Patton, a minor-league pitcher who's supposed to be the next great Houston Astro southpaw someday. Though he didn't get a lot of strikeouts in the particular game featured in the article, he gave up only one run in seven innings. It was the description of how the run scored that bothered me, too much maybe.

Patton's only run came in the fifth inning after what easily could have been ruled an error. After giving up a walk to leadoff hitter Bill McCarthy, Jorge Padilla came up to plate and lifted a ball into the outfield....

Padilla didn't give up a walk to Bill McCarthy, though; Patton did. A carelessly hung participle ruined the meaning of the sentence.

But this really isn't about dangling modifiers. It's about this. There's a good chance that the author of this story (I'm not naming names; you can track him down on the internet if you're that ambitious), and his editor, if any, both graduated in the top 10% of their high school class before coming to UT. Either they don't know what a dangling modifier is, or they don't care enough to eliminate one from a printed article; either way, I hang my head in shame for the state of public education in Texas, yet again.

By the way, I'm looking forward to Patton's debut with the Astros. Hope it happens soon.

No comments: