Thursday, March 30, 2006

Weather or Not...


The Weather Channel in the past few years has decided there are various degrees of lightning. Of course, I'm referring to the "deadly lightning" as opposed to the other forms of lightning that elude me for the moment. I'm still waiting for a forecaster to say "...but don't worry, the lightning right here in this area has been deemed safe by our weather experts." That hasn't happened.
-- P.R., Jr.

Dear PR, Jr.:

The only safe lightning we know of is the kind that hits someone we don't like on the head. But seriously, you have happened upon a fine example of bloated writing for the sake of drama. This is more a matter of style than of grammar. But a good test to see if your modifier is ridiculous is to put its opposite in place. If that makes no sense (such as "safe" lightning), then chances are, the modifier is just larding up your sentence. As the surgeon general will tell you, there is no such thing as safe lard. Except the kind eaten by someone we don't like.


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