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Words Dec. 16

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“He said he wished that Fox would have [make it had] gone ahead and ruled in the case rather than waiting.” “Pearlie White, a juror in the case who testified at the Aug. 4 hearing with Doe’s daughter, said she never would have agreed to a manslaughter conviction if she would have [had] known Roe would be eligible for parole so soon.” “ ‘If it wouldn’t have [hadn’t] been for these two guys, I don’t know if this program would be going as strong as it is,’ Athletic Director Hittum High said.” The result of ignorance or inattention by reporters and editors, this erroneous use of would have for had is everywhere these days. Watch out for that flare or the whole office will go up in smoke: “The revised glossy has the same look and feel as before. The new issue’s flare shines through not only in its essays ranging from topics like grocer Piggly Wiggly to Jesus Christ, but also sepia-toned photographs of children showing farm animals and black-and-white shots of William Faulkner surveying a worker on his estate.” Get off that coach and get some exercise: “Willy is a 3-year-old Walker hound mix. A bit of a coach potato, he prefers the indoors and likes children and other animals.” In lieu of plain English: “But political scientists are familiar with a fairly large body of survey research indicating that for whatever reasons, whites are better informed about politics than blacks or Hispanics and that males are better informed about politics than are women. Putting 2 and 2 together leaves us with a difficult-to-avoid conclusion that the most important Republican constituency (white males) also tends to be, by a fairly significant margin, the best informed constituency. At the least, it is difficult, in lieu of such data, to draw the conclusion that a Democratic Party disproportionately drawing from women, blacks and Hispanics features a level of political knowledge and sophistication superior to that of a Republican Party drawing disproportionately from white males.” A reader asks, “Does the phrase in lieu of mean the same as in light of?” No.

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