Look what happens when a local columnist tries to be Mark Twain

“As visitors to the resort for more than 20 years, the parrots are the first things we visit when we arrive.”

The prepositional phrase dangles at the start of this tautology, which is taken from the MailBox column of Westways, the AAA of SoCal’s mag.

The people visit; the parrots, much to their own chagrin, stay put.

12517006_sDangling phrases are so common. The other day, just passing through St. George, Utah, I read the local newspaper’s humor columnist, who led off his piece this way:

“After suffering from an undetermined malaise for quite some time, my wife bushwhacked me when I wasn’t looking and roped me into a local doc-in-a-box.”

Time out! He means that he suffered from an undetermined malaise, probably gas, and his wife made him go to the doctor. Following this opening thunk, there came a lot of claptrap, although the columnist’s friends in Southern Utah probably think he’s hilarious, a wit who ranks with Mark Twain.

Because I sometimes do, I sent an email to say the grammar patrol had noticed his rankly dangling phrase.

The local columnist’s response arrived in my inbox:

“Dear Mr. Baggy Paragraphs:

“I’m so sorry to learn of your affliction with dangling phrases. I always tell my wife to be sure to undangle all my phrases and she never does. It’s just like her.

8053535_s“Not long ago, I says directly to her, now listen up you “absolute grammar philistine,” one of these days, someone is going to get all tripped up over one of my dangling phrases and then he or she (notice that I didn’t say “they” because that would be an improper pronoun to use in conjunction with the singular “someone” (in most cases – except in southern Utah, in which you can use the term “them” whenever you are speaking about people, cows, church-a-goin’ folks or inanimate things, as in “someone made good cookies and them was delicious! Albeit, proper for southern Utah, I find it confusing as hell because of the dangling phrase which didn’t properly identify what or whom was “delicious,” them cookie makin’ folks or them dang cookies themselves!”)

“Oh, for the love of Mike, there are too many of them dangling doodads all over the place and I can go no further! No, really. No further. (Not “farther” – which is probably incorrect according to the cartoon Grammar Girl. Yippee! Score one for the village idiot!)

“Well, anyways (or is it just anyway, anyway?), I told my wife she would be facing certain liability in causing someone to go no further. And dang, if it didn’t happen. And so I am sending you a tube of Dr. Whizzlebub’s patented ointment for severe grammar irritation as recompense for her negligence. (It’s also sold in the U.S. under a different label as Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.) I recommend a application before reading any more of my nonsense.”

I fear he’ll be true to his wordiness.

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