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Words April 21

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“The sleuths’ findings were published in the summer 1999 issue of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, titled ‘Total Eclipse: The Destruction of the African American Community of Harrison, Arkansas, in 1905 and 1909.’ … As a read, the article is a page-turner that proceeds on multiple levels. Grizzly atrocities are preceded by a strategic assessment of contributing, and conflicted, forces.” Were those atrocities committed by or against the grizzlies? Or could it be that the writer intended to refer to grisly atrocities? ‘You know, it’s a school [Arkansas State University at Mountain Home] that doesn’t get mentioned on CNN very often,’ Begala, the show’s liberal voice, said on Crossfire. ‘And it’s too bad the only time it does is to expose the censorship and close-mindedness.’ … “Rep. Steve Harrelson, D-Texarkana, who spoke against the appropriation bill, posted a comment on Corn’s blog asking for additional information about the conflict. ‘To me, it merely reeks of close-mindedness,’ Harrelson said in an interview.” The word that means “having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments; the opposite of open-minded,” is closed-minded. Louise A. Taylor of Fayetteville was troubled by a newspaper headline: “Beloved pope grieved by millions world over.” “Is this headline proper word usage?” she writes. “I thought it was the millions who were grieved by the pope’s death [“Millions grieved by death of beloved pope”], and if the headline writer wanted to have the pope at the beginning, ‘mourned’ was the word needed [‘Beloved pope mourned by millions world over’].” That was my reaction to the headline too. I can’t say that it’s “improper” or “incorrect,” since I can’t explain why, but it is unusual. Normally, when we see grieved used this way, it’s followed by over or some other word. The beloved pope was grieved over by millions. They grieved for the fallen leader. “Sen. Russ Feingold … announced that he is getting divorced from his second wife of 14 years, Mary.” I doubt that he’s been married to two women for exactly 14 years each. The sentence should be broken up. “… getting divorced from his second wife, Mary. They’ve been married 14 years.”

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