Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Another FLoP coordination

Posted by Neal on December 10, 2004

Now that I’ve sensitized myself to Friends in Low Places Coordinations, they just seem to keep turning up. There’s nothing funny to say about this next one, though. If you don’t want to read about the horrible abuse and murder of a child, you might just want to take my word for it that there’s another attestation to add to the list.

From the front page of the Metro section in the December 4 Columbus Dispatch:

A Monroe County man, convicted yesterday of raping, beating and stuffing a 7-year-old girl into an abandoned well, could be executed by lethal injection.

The direct object of all three coordinated verbs is a 7-year-old girl, but the prepositional phrase into an abandoned well, which comes after the direct object, modifies only the third verb.

5 Responses to “Another FLoP coordination”

  1. Anonymous said

    A Monroe County monster who was convicted yesterday of raping and beating to death a beautiful 7-year-old girl and stuffing her lifeless body into an abandoned well, could be executed by lethal injection. Sally was loved by so many people including her cat Max. Poor Max has been meowing nonstop ever since she’s been gone.

    I know that I’m being harsh but the reporter who wrote that piece should be whipped, not for using crummy grammer but for making that unfortunate little girl into an anonymous nothing just like the disgusting thing that killed her in cold blood. I don’t think a FLOP can go any lower than that.

  2. Anonymous said

    Is “raping and beating to death” also a FloP? Because she was beaten to death and presumably not raped to death.

  3. Neal said

    ‘Raping and beating to death someone’ would not be a FLoP, since the ‘beating to death’ is all in one nice, unbroken string. But ‘Raping and beating someone to death’ would be, for the reason you say. Unless you mean that both the raping and the beating continued until the victim’s death.

    BTW, the story in today’s paper is that the jury has recommended the death penalty for this rapist, child abuser and murderer.

  4. Anonymous said

    “A Monroe County man, who was convicted yesterday of raping a 7 year-old girl and beating her to death before stuffing her lifeless body into an abandoned well, could be executed by lethal injection.”

    A reporter should not editorialize the story with characterizations of the convicted man as a monster, nor should the beauty of the victim be an issue of note in the report of a murder case. Unless the reporter is Nancy Grace.

    Proper grammar is not just a matter of professional style, but communicates accurately to the readers that the child was not, in fact, raped to death. She was beaten to death before being stuffed into the abandoned well, as indicated by the “lifeless” adjective.

    It is irrelevant to the crime and the justice administered that the victim might have had a pet that is lost without her.

  5. Neal said

    The above reformulation is not entirely accurate. The story I quoted referred to a girl who died some time after being pushed into the well. The earlier commentator who mentioned a girl named Sally must have thought I was referring to another, similar crime, as Sally was not the name of the girl in the story I quoted. From the comment, it sounds as if Sally was killed before her killer put her body in the well.

    I’m so sorry for both girls’ families, and hope that both killers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My only point is that reformulating the original quote with “the lifeless body” would not accurately describe the crime I read about.

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