July 6

Why the Parentheses?

I came across this passage while reading the Los Angeles Times and became perplexed as to why the author (Ross Newhan) would use parentheses, to wit:

The [Tom] Seaver vineyard is among the smallest.  He is growing cabernet (sauvignon) grapes on 3-1/2 acres of his 115-acre maze of bush, trees and spectacular vistas.

Okay, I used the brackets around Tom to indicate I added that word to the original text, but the author used the parentheses around sauvignon all by his lonesome.  Why?  Does he think people will think cabernet franc.  If so, just use cabernet sauvignon without the parentheses.

Parentheses are used to de-emphasize words or phrases in the place of commas, which would be the normal un-de-emphasized usage.  Dash marks are used to emphasize the word or phrase in a sentence.  So why does Newham use a set of parens here? 

Clearly, you can’t use commas or dashes in this construction.  I think he meant brackets, but since he is the author, he couldn’t use brackets, and since the whole parentheses thing doesn’t make sense, oh, well, forget it.  (Thank you, [tag]Alton Brown[/tag] for that profundity.  Parentheses used correctly here.)

It’s a mystery and a misuse. And on top of that, the damn grape names need to be capitalized–Cabernet Sauvignon (why did I follow his misuse of the names?)!



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Posted July 6, 2007 by Gary McCarty in category "Grammar Sucks

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