Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Worst Sentence Ever Published?

While waiting to board my outbound flight last week, I was looking through one of the various magazines in the waiting lounge. In it, I read what is, in my humble opinion, the worst structured sentence ever published. In fact, I'm not wholly convinced it IS a sentence. After all, what I learned in English class is that there are three requirements for a sentence. They are:
  1. It must have a subject.
  2. It must have a verb.
  3. It must express a complete thought.

I will also say that I wish Microsoft Word had a clue about this :). I often get it trying to correct my perfectly valid sentences because it is rather unintelligent. At any rate, here is the sentence that I consider to be the worst one I have ever read in a publication.

"World domination, luxuriously from this single storefront, the Jimmy Choo brand has, in a little over a decade, grown to epic proportions, thanks in large part to Tamara's presence at the helm."

My English teacher had a term for people who write like this: comma happy. Her rule of thumb was when in doubt, leave it out. I have to agree. The ironic thing is that the article was very interesting, but I got lost in this sentence and didn't get to finish it. But, I mean, that really is a bad sentence.

It has a subject (I think, but can someone point out what it is?) and a verb (grown). But as for expressing a complete thought, it's actually more like an amalgamation of thoughts. The first two "world domination" and "luxuriously from this single storefront (what?!)" seem to have absolutely no relevance to the main sentence. The rest of the sentence would be fine minus at least one of the commas. And this, my friends, is the dark side of MommaBean. I can't read an article, blog post, e-mail, or personal letter without this type of conversation occurring in my head. When I'm reading a novel with a typo or grammatical error, if a pen is handy, I go ahead and correct it. That's right, I'm a compulsive copy-editor. Bet you didn't even know there WAS such a thing, teehee. And, now, back to work.

Happy rewriting!


At 9:18 AM , Blogger alajnabiya said...

That is awful. I really can't even figure out what the author intended with the first 2 clauses. I bet it wasn't the author who messed it up, but some editor trying to cut down the length of the article.

I also have to fight a compulsive need to correct bad grammar. My 2 older children went to English language schools here in Palestine, and many times I had to resist the urge to return my children's tests with the teachers grammar mistakes corrected! Sadly, my middle son's English teacher makes a lot of mistakes on his tests. I really worry that he is not competent to teach English, especially for tawjihi.

At 9:21 AM , Blogger alajnabiya said...

The problem with correcting other people's mistakes is that you have to be very careful to avoid making your own. For instance when I forgot the apostrophe in the word teacher's.

At 10:03 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

When I read these kinds of drivel, I usually have to put the article aside and quit. I have lost respect for some lovely-looking magazines which have horrible copy. If you are going to write in English, then get it right. Just because I know some Arabic doesn't mean I am going to write an article to be published in Arabic. That is insanity. Unless you have mastered the language, don't torture us.

Alajnabiya, I think we have all gone through the English teacher syndrome here. And if you correct them, your poor child will be the scapegoat for the rest of the year. I just try to make up for it at home, with lots of reading and exposure to different types of literature. InshAllah they will survive.

At 11:25 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Welcome ajnabiya and thanks for the comment. We've just started school (KG2 now) and I do foresee problems ;).

Nicole, I agree, but noticed with one of the mags in town they have an American copy editor and it has as many mistakes as the ones edited by non-native speakers. It's not enough to find some random American with bad grammar or limited attention to detail and call them the copy editor...


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