Monday, November 30, 2009

Modifier Dogpiles: There's a Frog on the Bump on the Log in the Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

From a Yahoo finance story today:

U.S. stocks fell on Monday as investors worried that the holiday shopping season might have gotten off to a tepid start as consumers trimmed purchases over the Thanksgiving holiday amid concerns about an uncertain economy.

There's nothing technically wrong with this sentence. It's just a great example of how, every day, I get worse at reading for content because I'm so focused on form. Whenever modifiers -- especially prepositional phrases but also subordinate clauses -- are dogpiled this way, I lose all focus on meaning and instead go to, "How might they have rearranged this information better?"

"on Monday," "as investors," "that the holiday," "as consumers," "over the Thanksgiving holiday," "amid concerns," "about an uncertain economy." How can I possibly be expected to pay attention under these circumstances?

There's a hole in my brain in my skull on the lobe where the thoughts on the meaning oughtta be ...

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