+0
8/14/04-Saturday

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Please clear up for me the following question raised from my letter to the editor of a local weekly newspaper. See the question below... The title the editor had created and placed above my letter to the editor was: "Intellectual growth is contrary to centering your life in Christ."
In a later letter to the editor I had written that I thought his title (in quotes above) had biased the supposition of my previous letter. He responded as follows below at the bottom of my second letter.
"Editor's note: The headline on Mr. Granger's July 21 letter, "Intellectual growth is contrary to centering your life in Christ," was lifted from the text of the letter, "The push for intellectual growth through expatiation in all areas, thought a virtue by relativists, can work against the process of spiritual growth and the centering of one's life in Christ."

My question is: Am I in error with my grammar, meaning or use? I had thought there was a difference between "can" and the linking verb "is," and had meant "can" in the sense of examining, over time, all areas of belief. Is the newspaper editor correct in his response to me based on what I had written? What is the grammar rule involved? Thank you for your help and candid reply (ies) in clearing up this question for me. May I quote your repy (ies) to me if I should write again to the editor? Feel free to send your emails to me at Email Removed Thank you. Onesimus
Comments  
<< Am I in error with my grammar, meaning or use? >>

I think you know that you are not in error, and you're venting about it! Emotion: crying
You probably won't get a retraction from the editor, so my unsolicited advice is to turn the other cheek. Emotion: geeked
Thank you, Jim. Am not expecting a retraction from the editor of the newspaper. Can you or anyone tell me the rule for why you think my usage was acceptable?

Onesimus
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Thanks Jim. My cheek is turned on this. What is the rule for "can" as an auxiliary verb and "is" ? Onesimus
Hello, Onesimus. Emotion: smile

"Intellectual growth is contrary to centering your life in Christ"
and
"The push for intellectual growth through expatiation in all areas, thought a virtue by relativists, can work against the process of spiritual growth and the centering of one's life in Christ"
are indeed different in meaning.

In the first sentence a fact is stated. The use of "is" in that sentence leaves no room for doubt: intellectual growth goes against spiritual growth.
In the second sentence, however, what is said is that intellectual growth, or the search for intellectual growth, will perhaps hinder spiritual growth. This is not a fact, but a hypothesis, a supposition or a guess.

Both sentences are grammatically correct, but their meaning is different.

As a final note, I don't mean here to post any personal views of my own about intellectual/spiritual growth. I have simply tried to explain the sentences posted.

Miriam
Hi Onesimus,

The difference in this instance, however, is well within the range of editorial prerogative, and what you wrote approaches the headline's encapsulation. Anyway, Rule 1: Never argue with an editor; the situation will worsen and you will lose.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
The thought that an editor will be right even when they're wrong is spooky!

Perhaps that's why what you read in newspapers often makes no sense. It's sad to think that a person, only because they earn their living as editors, should be allowed to change other people's words and, in doing so, change their original meaning as well.

A good editor should be able to shorten a headline, if necessary, and at the same time maintain the meaning of the original headline.

Miriam
Onesimus,

Sorry you had to post twice. I had to leave the house for a few hours. While I was out, Miriam explained it much better than I could have (She's probably the best moderator on the site.), so I think you have your answer. (And sorry, but I thought you were being facetious about "is" and "can".)

Jim
8/18/04--Wednesday

Hello Miriam,

Thank you for your 2 insightful and helpful posts August 14 to my question of bias in the title the editor created and placed above my previous letter to the editor. Will you give me your permission to cite/reference your explanation and comments... in writing back to the editor? Do you mind? Is your permission required if I'm using just your first name or screen name? Hoping to hear from you.

Bob Granger

Email Removed
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.