Andrew Sleeth: Mushroom effect

January 28, 2013 

Mushroom effect

Grammarian pedants abound, so likely as not, one has already pointed out to Barry Saunders the presumptuousness of his critics (“Grammar slip won’t deter me” Jan. 21) in charging the error of the sentence, “I seek out misspelled words the way those truffle-hunting dogs sniff out that buried and expensive French fungi,” to the improper number of the comparative clause’s direct object.

No, in the real world – and I’m positive that’s the one most canines inhabit, and the one Barry had in mind when drawing the analogy – dogs do not hunt down one singular buried mushroom any more than pooches, as a general habit, consult the taxonomic classification of flora before going in search of it. If they did, then that fungal genus would have been extinct millennia ago after its first successful harvest.

Rather, it was Barry’s failure to use the relative pronoun “those” in place of “that” where the mistake was truly buried. And besides, I thought the French preferred using pigs to locate their wild truffles. Oui?

Andrew Sleeth


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