Post by HVS
I know that sub-editors are a vanishing/vanished breed, but surely someone
who writes copy for a living would have at least an inkling that this is a
crap way to structure a sentence.
. . .
"The 50-year-old man was detained on suspicion of causing grievous bodily
harm at a residential address in south-west London on Thursday morning, the
Metropolitan police said. He was later released on bail."
We can blame only Hall-Dennis and other educational "reformers" of
1960-80. (Hall and Dennis wrote in 1968 a report on Ontario schools
that won general approval for curricular changes, including a much-
reduced emphasis on correct English gramamar.)
Similar changes of attitude or assumption characterized British and
American schools in the same period, when a new generation of
teachers was trained, different from their predecessors in being
guided by current social psychology rather than academic tradition
(i.e. the folkore of teachers since Socrates.) Much less grammar was
formally taught, and many teachers of other subjects gradually
stopped demanding minimum standards of grammar.
Newly recruited teachers who had been pupils themselves in
1960-80 graduated knowing much less grammar than was normal (say)
in 1870-1970: and in turn trained literary workers to lower standards
of competence in English. In time, this meant that decision-makers
in literary occupations (e.g. copyeditors of newspapers or books)
did not have the conditioned reflexes normal in 1960 or 1900. If a
sentence triggered a mental alarm, they could always look things
up in dictionaries or grammar books (in those workplaces that still
maintained reference libraries) but as literary work accelerated
and shaved costs there was less opportunity and less incentive
to look things up. The later "24-hour news cycle" removed all
such opportunities and required instant decision on matters of
language: and the editors at work in 1990 and 2000 had
themselves been taught by people who knew less grammar than
before Hall-Dennis, so that they were almost unaware of the
extent of their own ignorance.
In other words, newspaper and trade books editors were
recognized in 1960 as qualified arbiters of language (so far
as there were any nonacademic arbiters.) By the year 2000
this was no longer the general case. Most of the "editors" who
ratify the language you and I read nowadays know much
less grammar (and rhetoric too) than you and I.know.