Monday, August 20, 2012

Where are the editors?

I'm reading Swamplandia!, last year's acclaimed first novel by Karen Russell that was one of the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize which ultimately was not awarded to any of the year's many fine books. I had just started the book and I was reading along, enjoying the language and the descriptions when I come across this sentence:
"But one night, the eve of their tenth wedding anniversary, she woke my sister and I and made us come out to the museum."
"Nooooo!" I screamed. That sentence hit me right in the solar plexus. It represents what is easily my pet peeve among grammatical sins - the use of subjective pronouns as objects. It's something that one hears all the time on television now and sees more and more in print, even in print that should know better like this book published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House.

Would any writer worth his/her salt or any halfway reputable punditizer on TV or even a writer of an inane television show ever say "She woke I"? Surely not! Then why would they say "She woke my sister and I" and think it is correct? It is wrong, wrong, wrong! And utterly annoying to some of us. Especially those of us who were taught high school English by Mrs. Rubenstein.

Of course, this is just one example of the sloppy editing which is an epidemic in the world of letters here in the year 2012. The Internet is the worst offender. Not to pick on Salon.com - it just happens to be something I look at every day - but here are two egregious examples that I found in the online magazine just in the last week.

I was reading a review of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild where I came across this sentence:
"Bakunin, on the other hand, championed the revolutionary potential of the 'uncivilized, the disinherited, the miserable, the illiterate' who would eventually throw off the yolk of oppression through violent revolt."
At which point I fell on the floor laughing. I imagined the yellow part of an egg pressing down messily on the unfortunate downtrodden people and I wondered what happened to the white of the egg. Now, to Salon's credit, they did finally notice the error and when I looked at the article again just now to create the link, I found that they had corrected "yolk" to "yoke."

Maybe they will eventually catch the second error as well. It was in an article by Daryl Johnson, the author of the Department of Homeland Security's 2009 report on domestic right-wing terrorists, the one that caused all the right-wingers to go apoplectic. That article contained this interesting sentence:
"DHS’ silence on the matter exasperated the situation." 
One pictures "the situation" heaving a big sigh and being thoroughly "exasperated." Now, the rule is that people can be exasperated; things cannot be. Things can be exacerbated and I know that's what the author really meant.

Well, we all have brain cramps from time to time. But editors are not allowed such brain cramps. I know because I am married to one and he assures me that real editors never make such mistakes and never allow them to slip by their steely gaze.

So where are the editors? Have they abdicated their positions? Are they so exasperated by the situation of ungrammatical writers that they have exacerbated that situation by throwing up their hands in defeat? I have a feeling that those blows to my solar plexus are going to become even more frequent.

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