How to Write about Being Incorrect

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

I’m somewhat puzzled by this use of language by David Graham at The Atlantic regarding the whole Frederick Douglass imbroglio. He writes:

In a way, Trump isn’t totally wrong about Douglass “getting recognized more and more,” though one is left to scratch one’s head at where precisely he noticed that.

First we have the hedge phrasing “In a way,” which has become a prepositional tic. I wonder what “way” is meant here. If the writer writes “In a way,” we would expect a description or definition of “the way.” In what “way,” for example, is the president “right”? And then we have the grammatical couple of “isn’t totally wrong,” which would suggest that the lego bricks in use here are both stable and unstable. We might write: “almost right”?

I would suggest that Conor Friedersdorf is more accurate in just writing the plain English of this example:

The mix of Trump’s incompetence and Bannon’s casual bellicosity endangers America.


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