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    #1

    Prompting

    Do forum members agree with the passage from the CASSEL GUIDE TO COMMON ERRORS IN ENGLISH, quoting an incorrect use of the participle PROMPTING?
    The Cassell author says that the incorrect sentence sugggests that the human rights activist was said to be doing the prompting, which is not what the writer meant.
    But it seems to me that this sentence could also mean that it was the arrest of the human rights activist which prompted the criticism, which is what the writer meant. This meaning can be shown by splitting the passage into two sentences, and starting the second sentence with the word 'This"
    "A leading human rights activist has been arrested by the Palestinian security forces in East Jerusalem. THIS has prompted new criticism..."
    Does this not have the same meaning as the oringinal sentence, which CASSELL
    says is inexcusable?
    ************************************************** **************
    PROMPTING “A leading human rights activist has been srrested by the Palestinian security forces in East Jersualem, prompting new criticism of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat.” [INCORRECT]
    - In the sentence, “ I sat in the wings, prompting the performers”, the participle of the verb “to prompt” is correctly used. There is no excuse for the journalistic habit of using it as a shorthand way of expressing causal connections. The activist has not “prompted” anything: his arrest has.
    "The arrest of a leading human rights activist by the Palwstinian secrutity forces in East Jerusalem has sparked off new criticism of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat.” [CORRECT]
    The Cassell Guide To Common Errors in English page 242/3
    ************************************************** ********


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    #2

    Re: Prompting

    I think Cassel are being over-zealous in their guarding of the English language. As I see it, "prompting" refers to the whole situation expressed in the preceding clause, not the subject of the clause. We say "His murder has prompted..." But in starting a completely new sentence, I would see 'prompting' as then referring to the whole meaning of the preceding sentence, or as a reaction to one or other of the participants being involved. Only what comes after "this has prompted..." will clarify which.

    "This has prompted Amnesty International to condemn the actions of the Palestinian Security Forces..."
    Last edited by David L.; 03-Sep-2008 at 21:49.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Prompting

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Togher View Post
    Do forum members agree with the passage from the CASSEL GUIDE TO COMMON ERRORS IN ENGLISH, quoting an incorrect use of the participle PROMPTING?
    *******
    What I don't understand is that Cassel objects not to "prompting", but to the position of the subject. They then fix the position of subject but feel they have to change "prompting" to "sparking off". They've made that change without an obvious reason.
    They state: The activist has not “prompted” anything: his arrest has.
    Then they change the sentence to make "the arrest" the subject, and for a reason they don't explain, they are still not happy with "prompting".

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    #4

    Re: Prompting

    Thanks David L. and Raymott!

    Leaving aside the issue of changing PROMPTING to SPARKED OFF, I was wondering if the meaning of the sentence could be more easily clarified by using the relative pronoun WHICH:

    "A leading human rights activist has been arrested by palestinian security forces in East Jersualem, WHICH has prompted new criticism..."

    Does this not clearly mark out the ARREST as prompting the criticism - in effect making the whole of the first clause the subject (am i right in believing that an entire clause can act as subject?)

    Could one argue that the pronoun may refer to "palastinian forces"? I don't think it can mean this, otherwise i would have to write "which HAVE", not "which HAS" - e.g. "...palestinian forces, which HAVE..."


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    #5

    Re: Prompting

    I see what you are trying for, but is there much difference (in terms of clarification) between :
    "...in East Jersualem, WHICH has prompted new criticism..."
    and
    "...in East Jersualem. THIS has prompted new criticism..."

    Can you see a difference?

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Prompting

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Togher View Post
    Thanks David L. and Raymott!

    Leaving aside the issue of changing PROMPTING to SPARKED OFF, I was wondering if the meaning of the sentence could be more easily clarified by using the relative pronoun WHICH:

    "A leading human rights activist has been arrested by palestinian security forces in East Jersualem, WHICH has prompted new criticism..."

    Does this not clearly mark out the ARREST as prompting the criticism - in effect making the whole of the first clause the subject (am i right in believing that an entire clause can act as subject?)

    Could one argue that the pronoun may refer to "palastinian forces"? I don't think it can mean this, otherwise i would have to write "which HAVE", not "which HAS" - e.g. "...palestinian forces, which HAVE..."
    Yes, technically you can do that, but people watching the news / reading the news generally don't have a long attention span. I think David's suggestion of starting a new sentence seems reasonable.
    No it couldn't refer to Palestinian forces, for the reason you've given.

  3. poorboy_9's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Prompting

    Droping all the "prepositional phrasology" leaves ..."activist has been arrested"; prompting.... This seem cool to me.
    Be careful when dealing with newspaper or oral news reporting, there are inherent pitfalls! (i.e. -THE POPE SPEAKS TO THE KING- While this may have taken place as much as 48hrs. ago, it's written in the present tense!)
    B.


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    #8

    Re: Prompting

    Ah. I should go back and complete my post on 'uses of the Present tense form of the verb - newspaper reporting'.
    It is the planting of winter-flowering plants at the moment that is taking most of my time.

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