There's more than one way to misuse an of. We've written several times about the missing of, as in "Lend me a couple dollars." The omission is sufficient grounds to deny the loan, if you needed any. But the instrusive of is equally offensive. Bill Shepherd writes, "I'm shocked to find the solecism 'How big of an impact ... ' in the April 27 issue of the Times. How did this get past the proofreader?" I spoke with the proofreader, whom I know well, and he manfully said he had no excuses except that he'd barely returned home from a delicate mission with Navy Seals in Pakistan when he was called out to rescue children from a school bus trapped by rising water. We've put him on probation.
A reader finds fault with an editorialist, a rare occurrence, noting this passage: "So when the Prince of Wales and the new Duchess of Cambridge became man and wife, it was hard to resist crying out in another tongue with ancient roots, one that has flowered anew in our time." The recent bridegroom was not the Prince of Wales, but the son of the Prince of Wales. Our reader suggests the editorialist could learn from an old Cockney joke — "What do the Prince of Wales, a gorilla, and a bald man have in common. One is the heir apparent. One has a 'airy parent. And one has no 'air apparent."
"With the New England Patriots' selection of Central Arkansas defensive end Markell Carter in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, Central Arkansas Coach Clint Conque has a new name for his school. 'We're becoming Defensive End U,' Conque said. 'Penn State was Tailback U. BYU had their quarterbacks.' "
I fear the coach has been surreptitiously dipping into Chaucer and Milton when he should have been studying the ESPN magazine. Penn State is, or was, known as Linebacker U. Southern Cal answered to Tailback U. And while BYU has fielded an impressive bunch of quarterbacks, Purdue claims to be Quarterback U.