Beginning today we are adding a new, irregular feature to Quiddity. We call it “Non-Pareils” which is French for something without parallel, that is to say, without an equal.

Because we feel shame when we teach writers the form of careful thought, many people make a living as writers who are incapable of properly ordering a complex thought.

To help our readers, we will inattentively and carelessly grab samples of such inattentive and careless writing (which we can do because it is so easy, demanding little care or attention) and post them on this blog.

Then you will have the opportunity to pareil the non-pareils. Can you imagine how much fun we’re destined to experience?

Here’s non-pareil #1 and it’s a little tricky, though certainly not diabolic:

Obama defeated John McCain by winning the black vote 24 to one, the Hispanic vote two to one and taking a larger share of the white vote, 44 percent, than did John Kerry or Al Gore.

What’s non-pareil about this? How would you fix it?

If that excites you and you want another nibbler, I’ll give you this bonus sample from the US Air web site, though it’s quite a bit easier:

You can either buy a choice seat or we’ll assign you a free seat at the airport.

4 Responses

  1. I thought that the “you” was buying a seat on an airplane but I noticed that the free seat was at the airport(?).

  2. Nice analysis Chris. You show how something as simple as a clear thought can make it harder for people to manipulate us!

    Ah, freedom!!


  3. Oooh- yes, this is fun! The problem in the first is that the first two numbers (Black and Hispanic vote) reflect the percentage of the vote that went to President Obama. instead of John McCain. Then they make the switcheroo, and make the last number a comparison only among Democrats. One also assumes that the first two numbers refer to the general election, whereas the final number can only refer to primaries when all those Democrats were still around. Very tricky…

    The second switches subjects on us, and makes it confusing in the process. The Subject begins as “you”, and without warning changes to “we” mid stream.

    If we could teach our students to follow through on their parallel constructions, we would automatically help them to outperfom a huge section of the population!

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