30 November 2002
1. A state election was held today. The Bracks government was re-elected with an increased majority, which is somewhat surprising given that their election material is ungrammatical. Voters in Richmond got a letter starting:
Remember three years ago the opinion pollsters predicted Jeff Kennett and the Liberals were going to win a third term in power. Instead, I’m writing to you today as the Labor Premier of Victoria.
(Writing as Premier of Victoria instead of what? What might have happened? Instead of Jeff Kennett and the Liberals winning a third term in power? They’re not parallel forms! The last sentence should start Instead, Labor won, and I’m writing to you …. The first sentence also needs a question mark—and it should probably start with Remember how ….)
Voters in Prahran got:
I’m writing to you because Saturday’s election is a very important choice for all Victorians. It’s about who you can rely on to deliver the services we all need.
(Saturday’s election is not a choice. One gets to make a choice, but that’s not the same thing. Whether or not to vote Labor would be a choice. Or, the verb could be changed so that the election represents a choice. There’s also some dodginess surrounding the antecedent of It. What’s about who I can rely on? The election might be about who can be relied upon but it’s not about who I can rely on.)
Well, maybe it’s because the Liberals’ material isn’t much better. Their Prahran letter starts:
Most people agree that some governments only start to be active when they’re under pressure to do so. That’s what we’ve been seeing in Victoria since the election was called—a flurry of election-related activity.
(What’s the antecedent of that? What have we been seeing? That most people agree? That governments only start to be active when they’re under pressure?)
2. Norman got married in a fine wedding. I’m not very interested in most markers of adulthood—marriage, homes and babies, say—but I am interested in weddings. In particular, I’d like to know if it’s at all possible for a secular wedding to be as rich in symbolism and emotion as a religious wedding.
3. (My grandmother and I were wondering about this.) When a woman marries, she is (traditionally) known by her husband’s full name (Mrs C. Stillwell). If she is widowed, she keeps this name. However, if she is divorced, she gets her own given name back (Mrs M. Stillwell).