Tuesday, November 24, 2009
RT Headline: Typo or Social Comment?
When I first saw the lead headline in The Roanoke Times this morning, I thought "typo." The more I ruminated, though, the more I thought the headline may be social commentary and not grammatical error.
The headline is "Grieving family want H1N1 test performed." "Want" is obviously wrong in this sense, because family is singular and would take "wants" as its verb. Unless, of course, you consider family a system of separate entities and not a single unit. "Couple" has been problematic ("have been problematic"?) in the past. I consider a couple one; some say it's two. Same with family: one or many?
Our current society tends to split families among its various electronic gadgets (see the cover of the Nov. 17 New Yorker for an example; sorry, I can't find it to link you, so buy one) and the splintering has been going on all my life. "Family unit" sounds like an oxymoron. Sadly.