Please explain why our home-town newspaper, The Washington Post, ran the story of the 13th victory in the last 14 games played by our nationally ranked home-town football team, Howard University, on page nine of the Sports section, Nov. 1. The placement was particularly curious when compared with the front-page treatment given the losses of the nearby University of Maryland (4-4) and Navy (1-7) teams. -- Paul R. Webber III What About Margaret Atwood? In telling Canada to "Lighten Up," George Will {op-ed, Nov. 1} mentions that Canada "has one great novelist (Robertson Davies)." I'm surprised that he could ignore Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. A distinguished novelist (her most recent novel being the widely acclaimed "The Handmaid's Tale") and poet, she has written more than 20 books, including fiction, poetry and nonfiction.

Germaine Greer has called her "one of the most important writers in English today." In addition, her work is published in at least 20 countries and is translated into 14 languages, including French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Finnish and Hebrew. -- Judith R. Hammett Convoluted and Incorrect The impact of headlines with serious errors of grammar are reported to range from simple headaches to migraines.

There. I tried to come up with a sentence as convoluted and grammatically incorrect as the following headline {Oct. 18}: "Impact of Budget Cuts on Embassies Are Reported to Range From Canape's to Consulates" (emphasis added). I realize this is an age in which "data is" is commonplace, but unless "impact" is a new collective noun, I have to hold the line and insist on singular subjects with singular verbs. True, there were two tricky prepositional phrases between the subject and the verb in the cited example, but I am confident that the proofreading staff, with a little extra coaching, will be able to cope with such complex situations in the future.

I trust this letter will have an impact that is favorable.

-- Nancy M. Kaelber Truly Orwellian I was most perturbed to read The Post's Orwellian use of the word "allies" in "Kremlin Decides It Can Learn From Its Allies" {front page, Oct. 13}. There is no dictionary definition to fit this scandalous usage of the word.

The usage demeans the Polish, the Hungarians, the Czechs (remember the crushing Soviet tanks?) and other peoples (save their Communist Party elite) of these Soviet satellite nations that most certainly are not the willing allies of the Soviet Union. They are host nations; Russia is the parasite.

I have seen lately in the press too much glossing over of Russia's, and communism's, horrors. What is going on?

-- Rose Ellen Ray So Much Confusion While all readers may have their personal pet peeves on language usage, the most important language problems for a newspaper are those in which the reader doesn't understand what the writer has said. The Post is cautious in its characterization of foreign elections that are suspected of being rigged. While this is creditable, it often leads to confusion. The Post characterized the last election count in Mexico as "debatable," while in fact the free-world press was overwhelmingly in agreement that the election had been blatantly fixed. The reader may have put the paper down thinking that a fringe group contested the election results. I wish The Post was more informative in this respect.

A similar spot of confusion is the use of political labels in Marxist-Leninist countries. The Post uses the word "radical" alternately to describe a doctrinaire dogmatist and to describe moderate policies (e.g., "{Mikhail} Gorbachev's radical reform measures"). Similarly, The Post uses the word "conservatives" to mean the most radical of individuals. Use of the words "hard-line" (or "left-wing") and "moderate" would be far less ambiguous.

My personal pet peeve is The Post's description of terrorist news releases. Rather than "claim responsibility" for a bombing, how about "admit guilt in the murders," "admit complicity in the crime," etc.? Surely other apt expressions are possible alternatives. Terrorists murder, after all, in an effort to get publicity for their causes.

-- Thomas P. O'Brien