Monday, October 10, 2005

The ethics of ethical controversies

Questionable phrase: ethical controversies
For GOP, election anxiety mounts” by Charles Babington and Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post (via, fourth paragraph, second sentence.
Usage: “With an unpopular war in Iraq, ethical controversies shadowing top Republicans in the House and Senate, and President Bush suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency…” [color font and links mine]
Recommendation: ethics controversies
Rationale: as currently used, “ethical” modifies controversies. The controversies they talk about are neither ethical nor unethical. Using “ethics” instead, it becomes a compound noun with controversies as the primary noun modified by "ethics". The controversies they mention do involve ethics.


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