Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Clunk! Edition

     Some of Sarah Hoyt’s guest posters aren’t quite as careful about their stuff as they should be. For example, in this essay decrying the decline of “literary” science fiction, I found the following:

     [I]f you want to be commercially successful now, you have to be willing to go into growing subgenres where a less literate population with reduced attention spans are buying.

     It pinned my irony meter. What does it do to yours, Gentle Reader? Take your time and read it carefully.


Arthur said...

I'll bite.

"a less literate population...are buying"

Is that what you were referring to? Since I'm not a wordsmith I went to the experts on the internet: "The word population is a collective noun that can take either a singular or plural verb, depending on the intention of the author."

And since she used "...with reduced attention spans..." it looks like she's using 'population' as plural.

Or am I missing something blatantly obvious like 'less literate people creating growing subgenres' thus reading more books?

Francis W. Porretto said...

You got the major gaffe, Arthur. However, the whole sentence is if the author had never entertained any notions about proper sentence structure.

Nels said...

``However, the whole sentence is if the author had never entertained any notions about proper sentence structure.''

Probably that's not an issue in his target subgenres. I want to know what a less literate population is buying, and whether there are any sentences in it.

MissAnthropy said...

You often see a difference between British and North American English with regard to singular vs. plural. For example, take a musical band. In British publications you would see "the band are scheduled to..." while the same statement in North American publications would be "the band is scheduled to..."

The British see a set of multiple members, and refer to those members in the plural. Americans see multiple members belonging to a single set, and refer to the set as a whole.

I find this sort of thing fascinating.