Say what?

“Canadians were found likelier to spend money that looks dirty.”

How do you read that sentence? Do you read it as this? ===> Canadians are more likely than people of other nations to spend money that looks dirty.  Or, do you read it as this? ===> Canadians are more likely to choose to spend money that looks dirty over money that looks clean.

It’s safe to bet that the writer of that sentence in the latest issue of Harper’s Magazine meant it as the former, a comparison of Canadians’ habits versus those of people from other nations.  Think about it.  Who would choose dirty over clean money?

I bring this up not to debate the finding.  I so rarely use cash that it hardly matters and anyway, perhaps the real question should be why anyone would even study the matter of dirty versus clean money.   I bring this up to illustrate how the way sentences are written and published these days in popular media, even august journals like Harper’s, could benefit enormously from a return of the editor.  I don’t blame the Internet.  I don’t blame Barack Obama or the Kardashian clan. I don’t blame anything at all other than all of us.  Editors were once linchpins to communication clarity, kings and queens of the written word and cogent thought, precision-obsessed individuals who juggled in their heads the knowledge of all mankind, or so it seems when I speak to a close editor friend of mine.  They were unheralded in their heyday but just as vitally important to the finished product as were the authors themselves. They’ve been replaced (not yet completely) by software and, when not, by lazy and distracted readers.

Here’s another safe bet.  If a sentence makes you pause and wonder as to its meaning, it’s probably poorly written and should have been challenged by a living, breathing editor.  Maybe this book below should be on the desk of anyone who finds they have to write a sentence at some point that another person will need to read.

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About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

One Response to Say what?

  1. Jeff says:

    This sentence is strange, to me, to say the least and begs the following, retorical, questions:
    How does one get funding to do this type of, obscure, research?
    I’d like to try and get funding to study the spending habits of dwarves, apologies, little people, in Bangladesh.
    Did this research include a sampling of Anal-retentive inviduals? I think the thought of having crinkled, soiled, cash on them would put them over the edge.

    If I was editor, Perry White, for the Daily Planet, I would say, “Great Ceasar’s Ghost!”, who wrote this? I want his/her head!, they don’t know what they have started.”

    Allow me to elaborate? With this new information the following series of events begin to unfold:
    The mints in Canada start rolling the paper, they use to print currency, in dirt before they print it. The new money is now dirty money. This way the Canadian Citizenry will spend more of it, faster. Hence stimulating the Canandian econonmy, and all Canadians are in a state of economic bliss.

    “DANGER! Will Robinson!”

    However, I don’t think they foresee the great danger of this. To much spending of this, dirty, currency will then cause inflation, forcing the mint to put the dirty paper in the washer, to clean it up. Unfortunately, in their effort to slow down spending, with clean money, now everyone, in Canada, will be holding laundered money, which we all know is, really, “Dirty Money”. Canadian spending never slows, and Canada ends up with “Runaway Inflation”. The Canadian economy then goes “belly up” taking all of North Amerca, Europe, and South America, with it.
    This, in turn, causes a global depression, which become the embers, to ignite events, that cause World War 3 to begin.

    So, we can summarize that this obscure research, and poorly written sentence, triggers a series of events that will ultimately cause World War 3, and our global demise.

    So what do the surviors, of WW3, do then? They “Blame Canada!”, of course.

    Harpers needs to retract this article as false information, sack the writer, and hope the global clamity that they have set in motion, never happens. Well at least not in this quantum reality, anyways.

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