Editors fail to
A Correct to: “Debate duo
find success at Louisiana tournament”
After reading The Whittington Weekly,
one may wonder if the Weekly staff actually cares anything
about “real” campus news and simply chooses to “waste” its time chasing
far-fetched tales of popular student interest because we don’t have anything
better to do.
To be honest, I don’t know whether we really
care or not, but at least we can offer the “Collegian Correction” as a
form of retribution-just to let our readers know that we do keep up with
actual campus events and even take them seriously enough to offer our criticism.
Let me begin by perusing through some editions
of The Collegian from this semester. On the front page of The Collegian
dated October 30, 2000, an article appears in the bottom right-hand corner
with the headline, “Debate duo find success at Louisiana tournament.”
I find no questionable material within the
content of the article; nor do I have a bone to pick with the MC forensics
team (no pun intended). In fact, MC should take great pride in the
performance of Harvey and Goza in this the first forensics competition
However, the situation strikes me as both
embarrassing and ironic that the headline for an article which deals with
superior linguistic expression is itself in defiance of the laws of modern
English. That is, the headline lacks crucial subject-verb agreement.
I would like to take the next few lines and
analyze this headline to determine how it could have been altered so as
to conform to the regulations of conventional English.
Although a headline may not form a complete
sentence, many of the components of complete sentences, such as subjects,
verbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases, remain prevalent in headlines.
I have already admitted that the headline
in question lacks subject-verb agreement, so allow me to explain how I
arrived at this observation. Since “at” is a preposition, it must
carry an object of the preposition. The object must be “tournament,”
because the object must always be a noun, and “Louisiana” functions as
an adjective in this case. Thus, the words “at Louisiana tournament”
comprise a prepositional phrase and can be thrown out in our reasoning,
seeing as a subject or verb cannot be carried within a prepositional phrase.
So we are now left with “Debate duo find success.”
The verb in this phrase can easily be noticed-“find.” The next question
would be to ask who or what “find.” The answer to this question will
identify the subject of the phrase.
And the answer to this question is obvious.
Of course, the “duo” is the thing that “find.” We see that “Debate”
is an adjective describing what kind of “duo,” and “success” functions
as a direct object, identifying what the “duo” “find.”
Recap. The “duo.” What kind of
“duo?” The “Debate duo.” What does the “Debate duo” do? The “Debate
duo find.” What does the “Debate duo find?” The “Debate duo
Hopefully, you can now see that the way this
headline is worded makes it sound like a kindergartener wrote it.
“Duo” is a singular subject. A singular subject must take a singular
verb. The verb “find” is plural. “People” can “find.”
“Birds” can “find.” “Duos” can “find.” But a “duo” “finds.”
Therefore, the headline should have read,
“Debate duo finds success at Louisiana tournament.”
Weekly readers may now ask,
“If you people are so intent on keeping grammatical errors out of writing,
why do some of your articles contain errors? Huh?” The truth is that
The Whittington Weekly is an unofficial publication. The writers
most likely have no credentials whatsoever and probably do not even proofread
their work before posting it on the Internet for the entire world to see.
You never know. We might have not even passed English Comp. --
article was intended for parody purposes only.
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