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March 30th, 2011 / 11:28 pm
Craft Notes

Second Somewhat Bi- oh wait Semi- no it’s Biennial Grammar Challenge!

This is for fun.

This is a contest. It is taken from a homework assignment in David Foster Wallace’s Extremely Advanced Composition class at Pomona College. It was a creative nonfiction workshop.

The contest is, correct these sentences for what Wallace, at least, perceived as errors in mechanics, grammar, punctuation, syntax, idiom, and/or usage. You get a point every time you are the first person to correct an error in comments (by rewriting the sentence correctly), but I’m going to wait to get lots of answers in to reveal the answers, so don’t hesitate to tackle a sentence that someone else has already tried. You may make multiple guesses on the same sentence, and you can guess out of order. Some sentences may have more than one error. One point per error. Prize TBA.

Some of these are pretty basic. Some are very obscure and speak to Wallace’s particular peeves, some of which I don’t share. The point is to figure out what he thought was wrong with these. No use arguing with a dead man.

And I quote:

English 183D 10 March 2004

” . . . every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.”–G. Orwell

(1) It was the yuletide season like I had never seen it before.

(2) We were in Innsbruck, Austria and we could not find a place to stay the night.

(3) We passed by the inn.

(4) It has made its way into the mainstream of verbal discourse.

(5) Cross burning began in medieval times on the green hills of Scotland, where clans used them to rally their kin and kith against enemies.

(6) “Get used to it.” I said to myself.

(7) As the president is a Christian, he prays every morning.

(8) I can support this claim with quotes from several published sources.

(9) It consisted of only two brief 50-minute workshops which one speaker enticingly described as “therapy session sized.”

(10) How else can we explain such an abomination of human nature to occur?

(11) Bekavac also quoted Jeannette Rankin, which the Internet tells me was the first female representative to Congress.

(12) There were less than a hundred students at the rally.

(13) People often say that Freud’s theories are about nothing but sex. They are generally correct.

(14) Timothy McVeigh might be a leader and he has stepped over lines where only a minority of anti-government agitators will follow.

(15) The U.S., Canada, and Mexico comprise North America.

(16) The Dean of Students at Harvey Mudd had the burned cross thrown in a dumpster without notifying its original owner and it looked suspicious.

(17) His name was left off of the list.

(18) Drug-induced or not, he’s very inarticulate.

(19) A person should be honest about their desires.

(20) Most people are adverse to cannibalism.

(21) I must follow those that I lead.

(22) There was fog outside of our car.

(23) If one acts, you are a leader.

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