Wind-swept and windy modifiers

A Law of Journalese requires that when a modifier is used one or two times, it must always be used in the future. Thus, parking garages are hulking, neighborhoods of immigrants are tight-knit, an old town’s streets are cobblestoned, a blue-collar district is gritty, a boarded up store is an eyesore, anywhere something once took place is historic, and if anyone ever mentioned it, it is storied.

What got me going on this was this lede in a Boston Globe story, June 28, 2017: “Organizers are planning a major change to HUBweek, the annual Greater Boston ideas festival: This year it will have an eye-catching exhibition space on wind-swept City Hall Plaza. For the first time, the festival will center around temporary exhibition space made from about 60 shipping containers, 3-D printed installations and — the highlight — four geodesic domes, large spaces built on skeletons made of short struts.”

The story doesn’t explain how those domes on skeletons of short struts will withstand the winds of the wind-swept plaza. Well, the truth is that the plaza may be wind-swept when there is wind, just as every open space in Boston is wind-swept, but, sticking to the Modifier Law, City Hall Plaza must always be described as wind-swept.

File under: Don’t kill a story by omitting modifiers.

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