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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Editor Boyd Sutton, Dangling Participles and the Ewwww or Eiew Factor

You will find a conversation between Boyd Sutton, one of my fellows at Word_Mage @ and me. He gave me permission to share with you.

Boyd said:

Yep, I caught the grammar vs. grammatical, Carolyn. Good for you. And thanks
for remembering me.

When you started talking about dangling participles I had two reactions. First, my eyes started glazing over. Grammar terms. Eiew! Embarrassment came next. I couldn't define a dangling participle if it were the $1,000,000 question.

But wait! You noted that there was an entire chapter devoted to it in The Frugal Editor. So I went immediately to TFE and found the chapter on DPs and gerunds. Eiew! Another grammar term. But it was a joy to read. You have the same "eiew" response to such terms and made it painless for me.

Now, I have another "editorial" question for you and the gang. What do you call it when people add an unnecessary word, as in, "He dialed up the girl's number." I see this all the time. In my critique group, I just say, "as opposed to 'dialed down' the girl's number?" and they get the point. It also shows up in "conjured up," "winnowed down," and on and on. What's that called? Grammarians (nope, it's not "grammers"), with all their fancy names and terms, must have a high-falutin term for that.

Boyd Sutton, Editor, the
Wisconsin Writers' Journal,

From Carolyn:

Boyd, I call it "colloquial." Or on second thought, maybe "redundant." Ha! But then you already read that I'm not much for all those terms that make us nod off when anything remotely related to grammar comes up.

Notice I didn't say "colloquial usage." I have a strong dislike of words that end with "age." Not just because of my age, either. Like "signage." Seems we already have a perfectly good word for that. It's "signs." Seems we're just trying to sound high falutin' with an extra syllable. But "dialed up" adds a whole new word, not just an extra syllable. So in this case, I'd consider another term for your example. Consider "dumbing down." Ahem.

LOL. You asked.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at

1 comment:

Sisters of the Quill said...

Hi Mr. Sutton,

Thank you for referring me to Jenny Turner. I was flattered. I've already contacted her - perhaps too late because I just got back from teaching on a cruise through the Baltic/Russia. I'm glad you had a good experience with my workshop at the PPWC.

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