Sunday, July 24, 2005

Wiwa - where are the Globe's grammarians?

The July 23 Ken Wiwa column (you can go here - and don't need to register as I have no wish to go past the first couple of sentences.) in the Globe and Mail starts with an interesting sentence.
Like everyone who hasn't decided to bury their heads in the quicksand of multiculturalism, the question that this week's second bombing in London raised is this: Cui bono?
OK - I cannot parse it quite. What is like everyone who cannot bury his head...? "The question" is like everyone of that sort? This makes no sense at all.

It gets worse - what follows this is:
Who benefits? Before we get into that, let's examine the simplest but apparently most controversial question: Why?
OK good. Just in case your Latin is not up to Ken's, he translates the "Cui bono". But now look at the Why? What could it mean? Why does who benefit? I am baffled.

I gave up there. If anyone continued and found anything of value later in the column, please comment. I am of a generation where my second-grade teacher would have marked such text up so that there would be more red correction than original text.

When I tried to read this column, I was partway through Ian McEwan's "Amsterdam"; one of its key characters is a pedantic editor (such as the Globe and Mail no longer seems to employ) who corrected grammatical errors. McEwan is writing a comedy (well, that is how I read it), but one in which I find myself laughing at myself, and the editor's pedantry was one of the things i found funny and recognized in me. Even that was not enough to cause me to believe there could be much coherent that followed the effort quoted above.


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