Friday, September 3, 2010

Copy Edit du Jour

I came across this sentence (which I slightly disguised here) in an article I'm editing.
The popularity of fashion eyeglass frames began to spread, becoming so popular
in the late 1920s that the Sears catalogue dedicated an entire page to them.

I'm still noodling over it. Does popularity spread? Or is it more idiomatic to say it grows or perhaps increases? And I almost overlooked that dangling participle, which seems to suggest "popularity became so popular."

Here are some alternatives I'm toying with.

The popularity of fashion eyeglass frames grew. By the 1920s, the Sears
catalogue dedicated an entire page to them.
The popularity of fashion eyeglass frames grew so much that in the late 1920s
the Sears catalogue dedicated an entire page to them.

Fashion eyeglass frames started to get popular. By the late 1920s the Sears
catalogue dedicated an entire page to them.

Fashion eyeglass frames became so popular that by the late 1920s the the Sears catalogue dedicated an entire page to them.

Hmmm. I think I'll go with that last one.



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5 comments:

8'FED said...

I'd expect talk of popularity spreading to mean that the geographical region within which something is popular grows larger, but there's nothing in the quoted sentence about geographical regions...

June Casagrande said...

Right. In the larger context, it was clear that there was no focus on geography. The writer was trying to say that it grew in popularity but never found the right words.

8'FED said...

I'd also like to point out to the writer that nobody in the history of the world has ever said, "Wow! A catalogue once dedicated an entire page to them. That's amazing!".

I mean, when I think of a catalogue, I think of something with a page or more each for all sorts of things, most of them not particularly popular, simply available.

A lot depends on how much their target audience knows about the Sears catalogue, I suppose.

nrund said...

Hmmm, before deciding to go with that last one you'll need to correct the back to back usage of the word 'the' ("...the the Sears...") in the following sentence; "Fashion eyeglass frames became so popular that by the late 1920s the the Sears catalogue dedicated an entire page to them."

June Casagrande said...

Dragon: Actually, the article wasn't about eyeglass frames. It was about something a little less likely to fill a catalog page. (Think: tiaras and wedding garters.) But your point still stands because the writer was trying to make a "wow" out of something not so wow.


Nrund: Good catch. That must've happened when I was rewriting it. (I always worry what the bosses would say if they found out I was "publishing" their content before it even comes out in the pub I'm publishing -- not to mention the critical stuff.)

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