Noun Runs for Office!

From a column by David Brooks in The New York Times of January 28, 2013:

“While losing the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, the flaws of this mentality have become apparent.”

Read on its own, and with the understanding that an introductory clause modifies the subject of the sentence that follows, this wordage from the distinguished Mr. Brooks states that the loser of the popular vote isn’t a party or a person… instead, the loser is flaws, the noun that inadvertently becomes the subject. Yes, a Dangling Participle.

Brooks’s dangler really isn’t that big a deal, especially because the final sentence of his preceding paragraph – “The core American conflict, in this view, is between Big Government and Personal Freedom” – gives it context and makes the meaning of what he is saying clear. So let’s call this one a semi-boner.As a matter of fact. I could have easily slotted my semi-gripe into Run It By Fred’s WTF? category, devoted as it is to mystifying turns of phrase.

One Response to Noun Runs for Office!

  • Erik Kowal says:

    Once you start keeping a look-out for dangling participles, you begin to find them everywhere. The worst offenders I have found are journalists who have decided to invert the normal order of a sentence to enable them to kick off with its most eye-grabbing or sensational component.

    This is not a complaint that can be made with respect to David Brooks’s sentence, which would be equally turgid if it was rewritten so that its flow was reversed — for instance, something like this:

    “The flaws of this mentality have become apparent even as the popular vote has been lost in five of the last six presidential elections”

    Better:

    “The flaws of this mentality have become apparent even as the Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections”.

    However, I would never wish to stand in the way of the Republicans losing the popular vote.

    Have at it, my friends!

    Incidentally, David Brooks’s article appears here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/opinion/brooks-a-second-g-o-p.html

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