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so these like clothing factories are like where?

FROM TODAY’S SEATTLE TIMES (De­cember 23, 2013, A3) comes this head­line: “Feds buying clothing made in ques­tion­able over­seas fac­to­ries.” Vir­tu­ally every reader knows ex­actly what the mes­sage is here: that the fac­to­ries ARE over­seas but ARE of ques­tion­able le­gality or morality.

But, due to the rules of grammar, that is NOT what the sen­tence says: since both “ques­tion­able” and “over­seas” are in­tended as ad­jec­tives mod­i­fying or de­scribing the noun “fac­to­ries,” these are con­sid­ered co­or­di­nate ad­jec­tives.

The rule for two or more words mod­i­fying the same noun (co­or­di­nate ad­jec­tives) is “If you can put an and or a but be­tween the ad­jec­tives, a comma will prob­ably be­long there.”

Be­cause the comma is missing, in this sen­tence “ques­tion­able” is, in fact, an ad­verb mod­i­fying the ad­jec­tive “over­seas.” What this does tech­ni­cally is to call into ques­tion NOT the le­gality of the types of fac­to­ries but in­stead ques­tions whether or not these fac­to­ries are over­seas!

That is, fol­lowing the rules of grammar, the cor­rect in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the head­line is that the feds are buying clothing from fac­to­ries that may or may not be over­seas, see? So These like clothing fac­to­ries are like where? never need be a ques­tion again …

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HEADER IMAGE: In 2013, the Rana Plaza in Savar Up­azila of Dhaka, Bangladesh, col­lapsed due to struc­tural failure. The search for the dead ended with a death toll of 1,129 mostly low-wage fac­tory workers. It is con­sid­ered the dead­liest garment-factory ac­ci­dent in his­tory, as well as the dead­liest ac­ci­dental struc­tural failure in modern human his­tory.




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