Friday, January 11, 2013

Grammar Lesson: Courtesy of Gypsy Scholar

My friend Kevin Kim recently asked the internet community at large to identify the error in the following sentence:
With razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, tales of this creature have been around since ancient times.
All of Kevin's readers immediately identified the mistake, i.e., a dangling modifier: "With razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates . . ." However, I went them all one better and explained this error for readers unfamiliar with the concept of a "dangling" modifier:
As noted above, it's a dangling modifier, so it needs to be attached to a subject that dangles. Tales don't dangle, or shouldn't, though they can leave the reader dangling.

The problem, obviously, is the spelling of the subject: "tales." It ought to be "tails." Now, the subject also dangles, and therefore fits the dangling modifier.

The sentence describes a prehistoric monster with a nondecomposable, regenerating tail armed with razor-toothed suckers and littered with eyes the size of dinner plates! Not the sort of critter to sneak up on . . .
And I did not explain this for naught. One reader responded:
aye. Yeah the 'tales' :) easy mistake.
Easy, yes, and consequently so often slips us by . . .

Labels: ,


At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

umsipiHow about:

"Tales of this creature, equipped with razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, have been around since ancient times...?"

Must be some kind of squid.


At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did umsipi get into my text?
Life is a mystery.


At 11:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, good to have you back, and your mysteries, too.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home