Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Quality Learning Time: During an Emergency!

During my radio broadcasts I read ads and public announcements aloud. The syntax and grammar tend to be poor. That's more important than you might think, because bad grammar and punctuation trap the announcer into making mistakes on the air. Occasionally there are bigger errors, like telling the listeners to come to 95 Smith Road for an event in an unnamed town. Most of these ads come from agents who write them for the companies that are actually advertising. I suspect the writers haven't majored in English, but I wish they would; I'd be happy if they majored in proofreading.

I corrected five run-on sentences in an ad I read today, but that's not important now. The ad contained this fascinating sentence:
"Remember, even in emergencies, young children can learn to dial 911."

As I see it, the writer envisioned a scenario like this. The house is on fire and a beam has fallen on my arm pinning me to the floor, so I call out, "Little Jimmy, at last it's time to teach you how to use the telephone!"

Or perhaps the writer meant, "Remember, a young child can learn to dial 911 and be prepared for emergencies."

[Please read aloud now:] Maybe I'm nitpicking and in August you can check out our website for further instructions but all, that trappy writing is getting to me and remember that only you can start forest fires. By a concerned company on the air.

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