A story that dropped in through the engine room hatch today concerned the funding of two industry sectors and concluded that "...one shouldn't be penalised at the expense of the other."
JD and I had both seen it; so had two of our magazine's writers. And just as he was about to pass the page JD mooched over and asked: "What do you think of this phrase?" Knowing he wouldn't ask such a question unless there was something amiss I read it, read it again, and finally the penny dropped – the phrase was glib, but gibberish. It was duly modified to read "...one shouldn't be subsidised by the other."
Remember this phrase had been written by a pro and read by four people. It goes to show that an extra read is never wasted!
The ambiguous Oxford comma
1 week ago