"Balanced" Reporting

03 Mar 2010

Ranting on this story: Grammar guide an ‘education disaster’

Summary: The English Teachers’ Assocation of Queensland1 published an error-filled grammar guide, a Professor of Linguistics tried to suggest corrections, disaster resulted.

It’s one of those increasingly common articles where one party states facts about a topic and another party claims an opposing viewpoint, citing a “difference of opinion”. But in reality, the story is not about two different viewpoints, it’s a case of sanity versus insanity.

There are objective truths. There are things not subject to one’s opinion.

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I was irritated about before I started typing. The concluding paragraph of the article:

Another example is the phrase “set of”, as in “a set of bowls”, being described as an adjective, which Professor Huddleston says is not a grammatical unit but a noun followed by a preposition.

No! Well, yes! But what the hell is with subordinating simple facts into a quote to appear balanced? “set of” as in “a set of bowls” isn’t a grammatical unit. “set” is a noun. It is so. It does not require an authority opinion from dear Professor Huddleston.

I should be more concerned about the subject of the article, but Mr. Graham says “Meh”.

And because this occasion happens to be a passable reason to offer this link: some classic Dave Barry.

  1. Meta-incorrectly punctuated in the article!