5/08/2008

Mr. Rewrite has a bureaucratese-caused headache

Mr. Rewrite thought the end of the semester would end his crankiness, but it's tough to smile when the paper hacks up passages like these in the wire service gristle:
  • The human-caused fire just west of the small communities of Torreon and Manzano has burned about 21 square miles, or 13709 acres, since it began April 15.
  • The human-caused fire, which is 55 percent contained, has burned 13680 acres and 59 homes since it began April 15.
  • They'll also be mopping up areas where 59 homes have been consumed by the human-caused fire.
  • By then, crews were tending to another human-caused fire in southern Arizona that charred about 325 acres west of Nogales.
Follow this Google News link to see many, many more of these monstrosities by language-challenged journalists.

Human-caused fire? The next time Mr. Rewrite finds the floor strewn with macaroni and cheese seasoned with cat litter courtesy of Rewrite Jr., should he announce that he's found a toddler-caused mess? The next time Mr. Rewrite hears a knock, should he tell Mrs. Rewrite that there's a human at the door?

Mr. Rewrite can't imagine anyone but a member of the bureaucratic hive mind spouting something this far from the realm of normal conversation. The word "human" doesn't work here. All Mr. Rewrite can picture is a caveman arsonist roaming the forests. "Caused by man" would be an improvement, but there should be something better out there.

Also, Mr. Rewrite HATES compound adjectives created for convenience rather than the transmission of information in a conversational way. Blech.

Folks, we have to protect the language from this garbage. Mr. Rewrite can forgive a government mouthpiece for using such language. It has no place in news articles.


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