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Monday, January 5, 2009

Poll Results 17

This was the question:

What's wrong here? "During the six hour-ordeal, passengers were able to talk with officials via intercom and rescuers tethered to harnesses brought them sandwiches and soft drinks, said general manager Steven Yeo."

87% of you were right: it's the punctuation of "six hour-ordeal" that's wrong. It's an unusual error that I haven't seen before. I happened to be on the Washington metro and noticed this mistake staring at me from a neighbor's newspaper. As 87% of you know, it should have been "six-hour ordeal."

4 comments:

The Smarch said...

Yes, the punctuation was incorrect. I'm still not happy with the few words that follow. "[W]ere able to talk with officials via intercom and rescuers . . . ." I think it would be clearer to end the sentence after "intercom" and begin a new sentence with "rescuers". I'm not sure if the sentence as written is technically incorrect, but it is clumsy.
Cheers!

R2 said...

What about the quotation marks at the end of the sentence, which should be after soft drinks? It should read: "During the six hour-ordeal, passengers were able to talk with officials via intercom and rescuers tethered to harnesses brought them sandwiches and soft drinks,”... In the UK, we would put the comma before the quotation marks, but I’m not sure if this is true of the USA.

Yvonne Perry said...

I missed that one completely because I was hung up with the officials talking via intercom and rescuers. Which end of a tethered rescuer does one speak into?

I agree with The Smarch that a period after intercom and starting a new sentence about the rescuers would be in order.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

R2 is correct. There is also a missing quotation mark.
As far as what The Smarch and Yvonne said, I agree something is amiss (also related to punctuation): I would put a comma between these two complete sentences (or a period).
During the six-hour ordeal, passengers were able to talk with officials via intercom, and rescuers tethered to harnesses brought them sandwiches and soft drinks...
or
During the six-hour ordeal, passengers were able to talk with officials via intercom. In addition, rescuers tethered to harnesses brought them sandwiches and soft drinks...
Since this was quoted speech, I would choose a comma.
So this sentence has three punctuation errors! Yikes!