Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 10:41:57 -0400

From: Ron Butters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Re: Available by calling

My emotions are totally in agreement with you about this particular

construction--it has been around for a long time, and it has always troubled

me at a sort of subconscious level. I guess what distresses me is the

"dangling modifier" aspect: "It is available through calling . . ." has the

same "flaw" as "Calling 1-800-682-0819, it will be available." Or "Seeing the

growling dog, it bit me."

People who regularly read and grade student essays keep lists of

dangling-modifier howlers that their students have created. Having taught

such courses myself, I am conditioned to think of such constructions as

"bad"--even though the descriptive linguist in me tells me that they are

often pretty much natural and normal and even sometimes communicate quite

effectively (if one can lay aside the prescriptiveproscrsiptive rules). Or

should I say, *"Having taught such courses myself, such constructions make

my purist spine crawl, . . ."?!