The hunt for faulty parallel parallelism continues
can see the grammatical imbalance between the two elements which are joined by the coordinating conjunction, “or,” to wit, “voluntarily” and “by force.” The former element is one word, an adverb, whereas the second is a phrase of two words, a preposition and a noun.
Good grammar requires logically related elements in a sentence to be equal, balanced, or parallel. Therefore, we should revise the sentence by making both elements adverbs, thus: “The Sunday Times has learnt that ANC MPs serving on parliament’s communications portfolio committee are mobilising for Ngubane’s departure – either VOLUNTARILY or FORCIBLY.”
From two elements that are not parallel to three: “President Jacob Zuma’s tenure, so far, has been relatively uninspiring, scandalous and entirely devoid of any large-scale achievements.” This is the opening sentence of an opinion piece in The Sunday Independent with the title, “An uninspiring mindset unmasked.” Here are the three elements that are related in that sentence, with the one causing the problem in capital letters:: “uninspiring,” “scandalous,” and ENTIRELY DEVOID OF ANY LARGE-SCALE ACHIEVEMENTS.Two adjectives are certainly not equal with a phrase of six words.
To rid the sentence of the faulty parallelism, we need to find an adjective that would replace the phrase. This is a rather tough task, isn’t it? And if you ask me, I’d hazard a guess that the writer resorted to that phrase because he could not readily find one word - one adjective - that could capture what he was able to express with those six words.
You may not find this adjective adequate, but it does enable us to remove the faulty parallelism, rendering the sentence gram- matically correct: “President Jacob Zuma’s tenure, so far, has been relatively UNINSPIRING, SCANDALOUS and UNPRODUCTIVE.”MAYOR WARNS AGAINST LEAKING INFORMATION is the headline of a news story in the times of Swaziland, May 10, 2016. The second paragraph of the story is a sentence that features three elements. Read it closely and tell me what is amiss: “The mayor, who fell short of directly pointing fingers at those councillors he suspected, described the incidents of information leakage as very unfortunate, childish and tantamount to stealing.”
Oh oh, can you see that? Of the three elements that are supposed to be in equilibrium, the third one is faulty. That’s right! Whereas the first two elements, “unfortunate” and “childish,” are adjectives, the last element, “tantamount to stealing,” is not an adjective. This makes the sentence a victim of faulty parallelism.
To correct the error, we need to substitute an adjective for the phrase, “tantamount to stealing.” For want of a better word, let us revise the sentence, thus: “The mayor, who fell short of directly pointing fingers at those councillors he suspected, described the incidents of information leakage as very unfortunate, childish and thievish.”
Given the correction we have just effected, I am sure you can spot the faulty parallelism in the following sentence, easily. “John F. Kennedy, whose charisma, drive and sunny outlook exhilarated the public, instilling a new American idealism, would have turned 100 last Monday.” This is the opening paragraph of an opinion piece titled, “Trump’s disdain for Europe only strengthens JFK nostalgia” – Sunday Times, June 4, 2017. Like the case that preceded it, the sentence now under our spotlight has three ele- ments that are supposed to be in equilibrium – a state of balance. The three elements are “charisma,” “drive,” and SUNNY OUTLOOK.See, the first and second elements are nouns, whereas, the third element is a noun qualified by an adjective, hence they do not constitute a parallel construction make. Perforce, the elements have to be balanced to rid the sentence of the faulty parallelism.
Again, the word we supply may not sit well with you, but being a noun, it does the job of balancing the elements, perfectly. Here is the revised sentence: “John F. Kennedy, whose charisma, drive and PANACHE exhilarated the public, instilling a new American idealism, would have turned 100 last Monday.”
The first editorial of the Sowetan, November 24, 2015, was titled, “Do not stop whistleblowing.” The fifth paragraph is one which may be characterised as double trouble, for it contains two sets of elements that are supposed the balanced, but which are not.
To make it easy for you to detect the error in the first set of elements, we have capitalised the first set of elements. The paragraph reads: “Because by exposing CORRUPTION and THE FLOUTING OF RULES, they safeguard the state from reputational damage and the wastage and loss of public funds.” The numerical imbalance in the elements is glaring: One word versus four. The first element is word, specifically, a noun, whereas the second element is a phrase, comprising an article, a participle, a preposition, and a noun. What we need to do here is simple.
Find one noun to replace the four-word phrase, so that the two elements which are joined by the coordinating conjunction would be parallel: Noun to noun! Accordingly, the first set of elements in the sentence may be revised, thus: “Because by exposing CORRUPTION and INDISCIPLINE, they safeguard the state from reputational damage and the wastage and loss of public funds.”
That leaves us with the second set of elements, that is, “reputational damage” and “the wastage and loss of public funds.” As you can see, these two constructions are not equal, numerically or otherwise. Compared to the two non-parallel elements preceding them, this pair is much more difficult to reconstruct. However, let us try to revise the sentence, as a whole, this way: “Because by exposing CORRUPTION and INDISCIPLINE, they safeguard the state from REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE and FINANCIAL WASTAGE.” Don’t ask me what “reputational damage” means, though, because, honestly, I do not know!
“Find a solution to financial challenge” is the title of the first editorial in the Times of Swaziland, October 16, 2017. Its opening sentence reads: “Once again our government is facing the challenge of BEING BROKE and DEPENDS mostly on collections from the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) and this is not happening for the first time.”
As you can see, the challenge facing you and me right now is to balance those two elements, BEING BROKE and DEPENDS, so that the sentence may be cured of this faulty parallelism. You can do that, I am absolutely sure! Anyway, in case you want to crosscheck what you have done with my own, this is how I have tried to revise the sentence: “Once again our government is facing the challenge of BEING BROKE and DEPENDENT, mostly, on collections from the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) and this is not happening for the first time.”