Journal Gives Prize for Mangled Prose

LONDON-Theres no shortage of obscure prose in the scientific literature, judging from entries to competition organized by The Veterinary Record, which recently announced the winner. He is Martin Gregory of Weybridge, England who submitted a sentence from G.W. Arnold and ML. Dudzinski’s book Ethology of FreeR anging Domestic Animals (ier, 1978) The authors wrote: “That the sense of smell used by these cattle was established because of the marked audible variation in inhalation inte

Jan 25, 1988
The Scientist Staff
LONDON-Theres no shortage of obscure prose in the scientific literature, judging from entries to competition organized by The Veterinary Record, which recently announced the winner.

He is Martin Gregory of Weybridge, England who submitted a sentence from G.W. Arnold and ML. Dudzinski’s book Ethology of FreeR anging Domestic Animals (ier, 1978) The authors wrote: “That the sense of smell used by these cattle was established because of the marked audible variation in inhalation intensity as the animals grazed.” Gregory’s translation: “We knew the animals used their sense of smell because we heard them sniffing as they grazed.”

A close runner-up was veterinarian J.D. Wilkinson, who submitted a circular that the U.K. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food sent last year to local veterinary inspectors across the country. Entitled “Cancellation of Animal Health Circulars and Circular Letters,” it states “The following Animal Health Circular is canceled. Title of Circular: Cancellation of Animal Health Circulars and Circular Letters. This Animal Health Circular is self-canceling.’

Several entries were disallowed because they were not accompanied by a translation, as required under contest rules. These include one submitted by Alexander Kohn from a paper by Richard M. Klein and George K.K. Blink on crown gall in the 1955 Quarterly Review of Biology “A change elicited by an affect or effect or by an effectant in the affectee is a passive or active response affect or response effect. If it counters the affect or effect of the affectant which elicits it, it is an active counter-affect or counter-effect. If it is an active counter affect or effect, it is a counter active affect or effect, i.e., a reaction in the strictest sense of the term as used hy pathologists.”

Also disallowed was an item from THE SCIENTIST submitted by Charles Cannon of Chicago. In an interview that appeared in the October 5, 1987, issue, Marvin Goldberger, director of the Institute for Advanced Study, said: “it’s ludicrous what people can in fact graduate from high school knowing about science.” Cannon supplied no translation, but described the sentence as “both terse and terrible.”