We’re busy putting together the Christmas Day paper, but I wanted to take a moment to wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and offer my sincerest hopes for you to have a holiday full of peace and joy.
Monthly Archives: December 2008
Do you find yourself shying away from party conversations because you don’t know the difference between who and whom?
Are you confused on whether a subordinate clause is a part of speech or one of Santa’s elves?
Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
The copy desk at The Wichita Eagle is known for its sense of humor and spirited discussions on usage, grammar and style.
Starting Monday, we’re sharing that knowledge and sense of fun through The Eagle’s first podcast on Kansas.com: the Grammar Monkeys.
Each week we’ll tackle a new topic. First up is one of the most common usage errors, lay vs. lie.
Impress your friends with your knowledge and my bosses with our number of downloads by going to http://blogs.kansas.com/grammar every Monday.
A couple of readers recently took issue with The Eagle ending sentences and headlines with prepositions.
While I have great affection for those who love grammar, I have to disagree with them on this rule, or, more precisely, myth.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is the kind of “rule” up with which we should not put.
Like another grammatical misconception, never split an infinitive, we can blame this one on Latin — preposition comes from the Latin pre (in front of) + ponere (to put). One of the wonderful things about English is that it’s more flexible than Latin. This linguistic freedom allows us to move beyond restrictions dictated by 18th century grammarians and sound natural, not stuffy.
For example: Where are you from? sounds right; From where are you? sounds like the writer has a concussion, or is Yoda. She knows what she’s talking about. Good. She knows about what she is talking. Blurg.
This isn’t to say prepositions should always go at the end. That would be an equally troublesome proposition. Many times a preposition doesn’t present the stress that is necessary at the end of a sentence and times when formality is the goal.
In general, the best course is to sidestep awkward constructions and let euphony be the guide.
On Sunday, we start “For Alex,” a seven-part series about a family’s search for answers about the Iraq War and whether their son, Sgt. Alex Funcheon who was killed April 29, 2007, by a roadside bomb, died for nothing.
Their search led them to a meeting with President Bush aboard Air Force One after he dedicated a youth center in Wichita and into the life of a wounded soldier, who survived because Alex’s body had shielded him from the blast inside the Humvee.
Roy Wenzl met the Funcheon family after he wrote about President Bush’s visit to Wichita June 15, 2007, during which Bush met with the Funcheons — Bob and Karen and their daughter, Gloria. The Funcheons said they wanted to keep their conversation with the president private and politely declined to talk to Wenzl.
But they also thought their story might benefit other soldiers and their families by underscoring how they wanted the war to be meaningful.
Over several months, Wenzl spoke with the family and with soldiers who had served in Iraq with Alex.
He read diary entries of Alex’s sister, the e-mails between Alex and his family, and accompanied Bob to the cemetery for one of his graveside talks with his son.
They shared intimate details.
Bob talked about the pain of never getting to meet the man his son eventually became.
Gloria talked about how her mother retreated to the bathroom every day and turned on the fan thinking no one could hear her sobbing.
On Kansas.com, you can read Wenzl’s account of why he wrote the story.
It’s a story we hope resonates with readers as the country continues to debate the war in Iraq.
As Wenzl wrote on the online account, the story is “ not only about what people did and said, but what they thought about four men dying one day in a war where the purpose and meaning will be talked about for decades to come.”
In a few papers this morning there was a white box on top of a photograph on Page 1C. Here’s what happened.
When a story is longer than the space we have, the page designer will put the excess sentences, called slop, in a white box somewhere on the page. This lets copy editors know how much of the story needs trimming. Last night, after the story was edited down, the box wasn’t removed.
We saw the box as soon as the presses started and rushed the corrected page through, trying to get it in as many papers as we could.
We’re working on fixes for our system and will do all we can to keep this from happening in the future.