13 October 2008
Four grammatical errors in a three-word sentence.
Such a discovery was said to be one of the claims to fame of Eleanor Gould Packard, "the world's most famous – maybe only famous – copy editor" (she worked at The New Yorker for 55 years).
The three-word sentence with four grammatical errors was said to have been perpetrated by a staff writer at The New Yorker, but apparently no one remembers what the sentence was.
The anecdote above was related by Kitty Burns Florey in her book Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History And Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, which I just finished reading. I attended school in the 1950s and early 1960s, when the diagramming of sentences was a rite of passage. I don't know if it was Mr. Glenn or Mr. Jepson who taught us that arcane art, but Florey's book did bring back many memories. Apparently now that skill has faded from the modern curriculum, surviving only in the teachings of some home-schooling families.
(image credit here)
Labels: English language