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  • Richard Farr

Letting it all dangle out at The Guardian

Breaking news: the Dutch Province of North Holland may be safer than cars and more environmentally friendly than planes!!


Oh wait. This morning's piece on a slick new Dutch travel idea is just another example (is anyone out there keeping count?) of The Grauniad's passion for and mastery of the dangling modifier:

Swifter than trains, safer than cars and far less damaging to the environment than planes, the Dutch province of North Holland believes the hyperloop might be the future.

I don't know why I find this particular bad writing habit so annoying. It rarely creates genuine ambiguity, as when people can't distinguish between deny and refute. But it's so slack, so lazy, and so easy to avoid; it makes you wonder what else they've been slack and lazy about. I mean - maybe it's actually the province of South Holland that's going to get into a little tube and zoom to Paris in 90 minutes? Who knows whether these guys check anything!

In another example of cutting-edge information-forward superficially-journalism-like stuff, a second illustration with the article is incorrectly captioned "Design for a Hyperloop station." The correct caption is "An artists impression of some kind of faintly futuristic-looking glass roof."

I sometimes feel as if I am being sucked down a tube into the future. But - as I recently quoted Kafka saying - to believe in progress is not necessarily to believe that any progress has yet been made.

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