Surely Jonathan Yardley set some sort of record with his Nov. 15 Second Reading column, "In the Game With a Real Team Player." By my count, it took him more than 400 words to identify the book he was reviewing. That's not including the headline or the introductory passage before the review.

Talk about your long opening paragraph! Next time why don't your editors just print the whole book?

-- Jim Tise



In "A Grizzly Mystery in Montana" [news story, Nov. 13], Blaine Harden writes that "affluent outsiders have overrun Flathead County in the past 15 years . . . creating a service-based economy that needs grizzlies as toothsome symbols of an eco-friendly western lifestyle." The "-some" adjectives are often not intuitive; for example, "noisome" means "smelly." And "toothsome," according to Merriam-Webster Online, means either "sexually attractive" or "of palatable flavor and pleasing texture." Either way, I'm not sure I want to know what the new immigrants to Montana are attempting with the native fauna.

-- Ross Stapleton-Gray

Albany, Calif.


Shame on The Post for yielding to the Republican Party's campaign to denigrate and dismiss the Democratic Party by refusing to call it by its name. I refer, of course, to the use of "Democrat" as an adjective instead of as a noun.

This is sneaking into print more and more in your paper, most recently in a Nov. 15 Metro story in which a professor was identified as one "who leans Democrat." Not surprisingly, this perversion of language to which reporter Matthew Mosk and your copy desk acquiesced appeared in a story about Republican dirty tricks.

-- Ira R. Allen



Rich Danker has it exactly right [Free for All, Nov. 12] -- your Style reporters write themselves into their stories. It's about how gosh-darn clever they are, how blase it all is, how it's all about them and not the person they're interviewing.

This time we have Robin Givhan, whose Nov. 12 article about Clive Owen was dominated by her disdain for the hotel suite, the flowers and even a poor, unfortunate Halloween cookie -- not to mention that Owen wasn't much of a turn-on for her. Apparently, he didn't light up the room. Pity. I'll take his talent, his concern for his children's privacy, his handsomeness and his "aplomb" regarding his co-star (Givhan writes: "What else could a polite person say?").

Givhan would be well-served to brush up on her own aplomb.

-- Mindyl Gaynor



It's depressing that the Nov. 11 Metro article reporting on the Maryland English exam results started off with a grammatical error: "Less than 45 percent of Prince George's County students. . . ." The word "fewer," not the phrase "less than," was called for in this case.

In general it seems as though your newspaper is doing little to encourage good writing, choosing instead to concentrate on colorful or sarcastic language. Meanwhile, many mistakes are not caught. I sometimes wonder where the copy editors are. Common errors include:

* Subject-verb disagreement.

* Overwriting.

* The frequent use of the word "manse" to indicate a large house, when the word actually refers to the home of a minister, particularly a Presbyterian minister.

Please do better.

-- Mimi Hook

Silver Spring


I was angered by the use of the term "redneck" in the headline above Marc Fisher's Metro column on Nov. 10.

It's difficult to imagine a similarly insulting term appearing in a headline for other racial or ethnic groups, whose deeply held beliefs and aspirations are never-ending sources of veneration for the columnist class. But if working-class white Virginians dare have convictions, they're hit with a nasty racial slur.

The relentlessness of the naked double standards along these lines is enough to make reasonable people wonder if we're all truly in this together.

-- David Wilson