Mini-rant 3: Misleading word order

Nothing beats making your own entertainment is what my friend Norma always says. Having recently retired, she makes a point of wringing maximum enjoyment out of every day and can often be spotted departing for the crown court armed with a Mars bar, a large packet of cheese-and-onion crisps and a bag containing her knitting paraphernalia. Yesterday, however, she hammered on my door with an uncharacteristic urgency. “What’s the world coming to – just look at this!” she lamented, thrusting a recent copy of The Guardian at me. The revelation which precipitated her outburst went like this.

Maslin pleaded guilty to killing Hollie during a hearing at Bristol crown court.

“If they can’t keep you out of harm’s way IN COURT, where CAN you feel safe?”
“Don’t worry, petal, that’s not what they meant.”
“But it’s The Guardian!”
“Hmmm … I’m sure what they were trying to say was this.”

During a hearing at Bristol crown court, Maslin pleaded guilty to killing Hollie.

“But it’s The Gua … ”
“I know, I know, but they are all at it, petal. Misleading word order is normally quite easy to put right, though: often, you just plonk the adverbial at the front, and voilà!”
“Well I never!” exclaimed Norma – always more of a knitter than a reader.

Misleading word order is extremely common; I devoted Post 7 to this topic and will doubtless re-visit it again.


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