November 22nd, 2006
Dear Strunk & Web,
I need your help in confirming or denying the validity of the newspaper headline on today's Metro paper. Now I'm sure you're just as surprised as I am that "The World's Largest Newspaper -- In The World!" may have encountered a wee bit of grammatical trouble in its headline-writing today, but their obstensibly haphazard and slapdash use of a single comma is leaving me a bit cold.
The headline (and comma) in question is attached to an article about a group of BU Republicans who are creating a whites-only scholarship in an attempt, they say, to "convey the absurdity of any race-based scholarship." (For your reference, here's the Boston Glob article.)
Now the discussion of the actual issue is best saved for someone else's journal or blog or subway walls (and tenement halls) as I am only interested in pointing out trivial absurdities in our city's fine daily periodicals. So I will let you know that The Metro, then, ran this as their big bad front page headline this morning:
Scholarship, For Whites OnlyAt first glance that looks like the world's most superfluous comma. What do you think? The only way I could even remotely justify such a comma is if I were to suggest that the comma represents an inherent "but" qualifier, only maybe the newspaper just didn't have enough space what with its large easy-to-read headline font.
It's just bad writin', that's all it is.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)|| |
It reads to me as declaring that the realm of academia is reserved for Caucasians. But that can't be right.
I think the comma makes sense... but I'm weird. I also didn't read the article. So if they're talking about it the way jadasc
interprets it, it's definitely correct that that's what I thought it was about, too.
But if that's not what it's about, it could be superfluous.
I read that comma as being an implied, um, "available." Sort of as in classified ads. Like: "Ford Bronco, Used by O.J." or "Chairs, Dining Room."
I could see that, but those are classfied ad headings, not a front-page newspaper headline. To me it seems that even if they phrased it as "A Scholarship, For Whites Only" it would make the comma seem less superfluous.
Same here. And Alanis comma you can't use "A" in a headline nohow.
Well if they've already got a Bad Comma in, why not just go whole hog? If only we could shove in a first-person perspective and some truly misplaced quotation marks (for "whites" only) and then boy howdy we'd surely have a parade here!
|Date:||November 22nd, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC)|| |
Nevermind the comma -- for the love of all that is holy, at least spell the name of my savior correctly.
But I am not Alanis Mo(one-R)issette. You are talking crazy.
It is a good newspaper like the New York Slimes and the Washington Compost
|Date:||November 22nd, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)|| |
If any sort of punctuation must be used, it should be the colon.
Colons: we're good for creating taglines.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)|| |
Originally it said "Scholarship for White's Only" and some late-night copy editor stared blearily at it, thinking, "now, where does that little mark belong?" until they realized they could shove it in at Scholarship,
* * * * *
Chairs, Dining Room is the same as Fforde, Jjasper - it says "Usually we say dining room chairs but for alphabetization we put chairs first."
Actually, as the granddaughter of a copy editor, I can say with only vague knowledge that sometimes headlines needed to be crafted not just to be concise, clear, and informative, but also to fit correctly and look somewhat aesthetic. In this day and age of computerized typesetters, though, that shouldn't be a problem. But back when the letters were pulled out of little drawers and set by hand on a plate, that little mark might needed to have been moved elsewhere.
The comma doesn't seem all that necessary, but it's also not the most egregious error in the world. Seem to me they were looking for a cheap way to emphasize the "for whites only" part, so they, um, gave it its own clause?
|Date:||November 22nd, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)|| |
It has a different emotional tone. "Scholarship, For Whites Only" feels like a sort of title to a New Yorker essay. "Scholarship for Whites Only" sounds like the title to a news story.
"Scholarship: For Whites Only" sounds like the title to a news story, but one where the reporter does have an opinion about whether it's a good or bad thing.
"Scholarship, For Whites Only" sounds like it's an essay or a column, and that there is no such scholarship, but that the columnist is saying, "what if. . . "
"Scholarship for Whites Only" sounds like the headline of a dispassionate, disinterested news story about a scholarship for whites only.
"Scholarship: For Whites Only" sounds like a headline for an investigative piece about racism in scholarship awards.
I think we can agree that the entire headline stinks and would have been much better re-written, eh ?
Scholarship: For Whites Only?
(and yes, the ? is meant to be part of teh headline)
|Date:||November 22nd, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)|| |
Whites-Only Scholarship Upsets Everyone But Trent Lott?
It doesn't bother me. (I have a journalism degree and am a professional proofreader, so I like to think my 2 cents count extra.)
I'm not good at explaining this stuff, though. Perhaps you could consult Bill Walsh. http://www.theslot.com/
I think what they meant to write is:
Dumbass College Republicans Reaffirm Status As Wastes of Blood, Tissue, Organs.
For REAL. "I am going to provide bonuses to the, on average, MOST privileged class of students just to piss everyone off!"
I bet in a week we see one that boils down to "Wow, that sure pissed everyone off." No. Shit.
Is "Strunk & Web" in any way related to jwz
The phrase was, indeed, adapted from the original and freely modified under the GNU Public License and is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
DILUTE! DILUTE! OK!!
Whether or not it makes sense as it is (it does), it's still superfluous because if you remove it, it does the same thing. Generally, as a matter of taste, I would say the least amount of punctuation in a headline is what you should aim for, if feasible.