Thursday, July 03, 2008

happy birthday grammar mistake tao lin



'in honor of'
'on the occasion of'
'due to the obligatory observation of'
'in loving memory of'
'in celebration of'
'congratulations graduate of'

tao lin's birthday, instead of becoming an 'ocean sunfish level patron of the arts', i am posting this grammatical mistake, which was made on the natural history museum's website 'of all places'.

The century-old mystery of what comprises the peculiar tail of one of the largest of all bony fishes, the ocean sunfish has been resolved.


without a second comma after sunfish, i'm pretty sure this is wrong, and 'means' that everything before the existing comma qualifies the noun that immediately follows it. thus, The Ocean Sunfish is the century-old mystery of what comprises the peculiar tail of one of the largest of all bony fishes. unless of course they meant to say this, in which case they are not 'wrong'.

adjective-of-the-day:

century-old-mystery-of-what-comprises-the-peculiar-tail-of-one-of-the-largest-of-all-bony-fishes-y

i think that this adjective is very specific and can describe only the ocean sunfish (mola mola), but it has a certain 'charm' to it.

i also like the title of the NHM article. it is things like that that render successful google searches for

Strange tail of the sunfish

4 comments:

Rho Ell Ste said...

"The century-old mystery of what comprises the peculiar tail of one of the largest of all bony fishes, the ocean sunfish has been resolved."

This sentence is insane. You're right. From what I can tell--and as you've pointed out--the simple sentence here should be:

"The mystery has been resolved."

"century-old" serves as an adj., of course, in that it modifies "mystery."

"of what comprises the peculiar tail of one of the largest of all bony fishes, the ocean sunfish"--I don't quite know what to make of this. I think, if I were to untwist this complex prepositional phrase, I would get, "the peculiar tail of one of the largest bony fishes, the sunfish, comprises of what." The "what" is what really throws me off here, though.

And I think you're right in that there should be a comma after "sunfish" since "the ocean sunfish" is an appositive that modifies "bony fishes." But it's crazy to have an appositive in that position--that is , embedded in a loopy prepositional phrase that follows the subject of a sentence.

Good find.

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