I was hoping that my last post would be my last post about left-branching, but my local newspaper made me do this.
Here is their latest violation (I’ve changed the name of the city):
Due to high demand for the [body] cameras as more police departments across the country are using them in the wake of several high profile police incidents, there was a delay in Sandstone police getting their order.
The bolded part of the sentence—26 words—branches to the left from the subject and verb “there was a delay” (10 words). This means that for 26 words, we have no idea why we are reading this sentence. Ah, there it is: Sandstone police received their [camera] order late.
The Text Doctor can’t resist rewriting this sentence to fix the left-branching confusion above:
Sandstone police finally received their body cameras after a delay due to high demand as more police departments across the country are using them in the wake of several high-profile police incidents. [32 words]
I think we can posit two clear rules here:
- Get to the point of the sentence right up front.
- Don’t wander around for the first two thirds of your sentence.
Actually, they are the same rule: Bottom line on top (BLOT)!
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