You play the editor

Here is your chance to become an editor. Your job is to revise the sentences in this section; they suffer from various problems.


Part I: Mechanical errors


From a Nov. 28 posting: Who should you tip for the holidays? (What is the grammar error?)


From a Time magazine headline: Who Would You Rather See Play Detroit’s Thanksgiving Halftime Show? (What is the grammar error?)


The second comes from a Charles Schwab ad in Time: LET’S TALK ISN’T JUST AN INVITATION — IT’S HOW WE DO BUSINESS (Hint: Neither the capital letters nor the dash is the main mechanical problem. What is?)


This is the headline (it’s in italics) from an ad for an assisted-living facility: How do you define senior living?

What is wrong with the mechanics?


Part II: Grammatical errors


In Joel Stein’s “The Awesome Column,” published in the Sept. 12, 2011, edition of Time magazine, he writes, in the second-to-last sentence, “not a single one of the parents is more famous than me.” (The column is about his and his wife’s search for a pre-school for their young son.) What's wrong, grammatically, with that clause? (Hint: pronoun use.)


Part III: You do the work!


Here is your chance to become an editor. The sentences below suffer from at least one problem. Fix 'em.


1) The following is from a website (the main problem is incorrect punctuation, though capitalization is also flawed):

“Cabo Flats is a place where fun people come together to enjoy tasty Mexican/Southwest Cuisine, drink huge, delicious, fresh Margaritas, and listen to great recorded and live music.”


2) The following is from Time magazine (July 11, 2011; page 26), in its story on Mexico’s drug war (I’ve edited the passage for brevity; the problem is a major-league misplaced modifier):

“Teacher Martha Rivera … became an Internet star because of a YouTube video showing her calming her kindergarten class as hit men executed five people with assault rifles outside her school.”


Part IV: Are you ready for this one?


Below is an academic definition of “you-attitude” or “you-viewpoint.” Revise this passage so it's readable.

(Hint from J.D.: When I discussed “you-attitude” or “you-viewpoint” — the terms are interchangeable — in my Writing for Management classes at Florida Atlantic University, the definition I gave students consisted of about 15 words.)


You-attitude is a pedagogically convenient cover term that subsumes considerable complexity, both with respect to the text effects it may include and the text characteristics that create these effects. Some of the insights on politeness, tact, and deference found in the work of Brown and Levinson, Leech, and Fraser and Nolen can help provide guidelines for assessing how important a you-attitude may be in writing about a particular real-world situation, and case grammar and information structure can inform strategies to enhance the expression of a you-attitude. Rather than being a binary variable, you-attitude appears to be gradable, and an informal student assessment of the you-attitude expressed in ten versions of the same passage suggests that the various strategies for enhancing the you-attitude conveyed by a text appear to have a cumulative effect, so that a greater sense of you-attitude is created when more strategies are used.