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Words, Nov. 26



Talk about coddling criminals:

“BENTON — The former Shannon Hills police chief who has been fighting a sexual-assault conviction for five years has admitted to molesting a girl in exchange for a shorter prison sentence.” They shortened his sentence because he molested a girl? That hardly seems appropriate.

Actually, I'm reasonably sure the prison sentence was shortened because of the admission, not the molestation, but the newspaper didn't make that clear. A comma after “girl” would have helped, or they could have changed the word order — “In exchange for a shorter prison sentence, the former police chief who has been fighting a sexual-assault conviction has admitted to molesting a girl … ”


Dream job, almost:

“Richard Miniter, who was vice president of opinion … ”

Vice president isn't bad, but when it comes to opinion, I know I'm presidential timber. Who has more, or clings to them more tenaciously?


A warrant is not a train:

Stanley Johnson writes: “A few weeks back the Dem.-Gaz. ran a police story in which it was stated that a search warrant was conducted. Last night, I heard a cable TV newscaster say a search warrant had been ‘conducted by police'. Is this a new acceptable phrase? Searches are conducted. Warrants are issued and then … what? Implemented? Executed? Not conducted. Or are they now?”

Warrants are most often served. I didn't know anybody was trying to conduct them.

It's some new kind of journalese, perhaps, unknown in standard usage.


Who crew?

“In the expectant grayness which was only just less than the night's dark, a cock crew twice.” I like the crew, but Garner's Modern American Usage says, “The modern preference is for crowed … Occasionally, crew pops up in allusion to the King James Version — e.g.: ‘And immediately the cock crew.' Matthew 26:74.”

The opening quotation is from a British detective story, maybe a hundred years old. I waited for the paperback.

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