Thursday, July 03, 2008

Whither Reading Skills?

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), somewhere along the way a child (or two) didn't get the message that reading involves understanding as well as calling words.

Take, please!, the example to be found today on Page A10 of the Riverside, California's The Press-Enterprise (print edition). We have this headline: U.S. wary of Israeli strike on Iran, and this sub-headline: HIGH-RISK: The Joint Chiefs chairman an air assault on nuclear facilities could destabilize the region.

Now, DGR(s), if you're thinking, as I was, that this chairman must've lost his chair if he thinks the region is stable--after all, "could destabilize" implies stability in the first place--you'd be correct, up to a point.

Here's the point. In the story the chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, actually is quoted thusly: "This is a very unstable part of the world and I don't need it to be more unstable."

Whoa! The chairman did not say "could destabilize." He said it is "very unstable."

The headline writer at The Press-Enterprise erred; the editor in charge of overseeing the headline writer erred.

Back to school, folks.

This time pay attention to your poor beleaguered English teacher.

[And I know, DGR(s), how dangerous it is for an ex-English teacher to point out weaknesses in language skills of others. Alas, I know all too well.]

Have a good 4th!

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