Since the law went into effect in September 2005, price fluctuations caused by disruption of gasoline supply caused by Hurricane Katrina caused gasoline to be sold for more than $3.00 a gallon in Honolulu, with significantly higher prices on the Neighbor Islands.

Like many, I love Wikipedia and its various offshoots (Wikinews, Wikitravel, etc.), but I’ve rarely felt the compulsion to use its raison d’etre function of editing entries (or creating news ones, even) myself. But one look at the above sentence, from a Wikinews item about “Hawaii legislature reaches agreement to suspend gasoline price cap”, and I think you can understand why I finally felt compelled to jump in.

Three “caused” in one sentence is I think you will agree a bit much to bear (especially three in a mere 11 word stretch!). But in addition to that it struck me that the last “caused,” as in “price fluctuations […] caused gasoline to be sold for more than $3.00…” seemed, how shall I put it, too causative? Actually, the more I looked at the sentence the more f*cked up it seemed, especially if one considers the fact that Katrina occurred in August of 2005, yet the way the sentence is written, it is not Katrina but the law going into effect in September 2005 (“Since the law went into effect….”) that is the catalyst for the price increases. As the law this article is about aimed to cap prices, not have them spiral out of control, one’s head does start to spin a bit. And isn’t “…caused gasoline to be sold for more than $3.00…” clunky to say the least?

Oh well, I limited myself to getting rid of the “caused”s (succeeded — or not? you be the judge — in getting rid of all three) and changing the tense to the perfect aspect, but even so it felt a bit weird and unsettling to make these changes and hit Save. I mean, who am I to correct someone’s grammar. I don’t even know if bad grammar (in my eyes) is warrant enough to make a change at Wikinews. (It does seem a tad pedantic). And does my change constitute a “minor edit” or not (I didn’t choose “minor” but one can hardly say my change was “major,” can one?)? I think it’s safe to say I’ll pay less attention to the grammar and word choice in the future when I read these. Lord knows I don’t have the time to edit and hand-wring over every Tom, Dick or Harry entry. In the meantime, below is my edit:

Since the law went into effect in September 2005, price fluctuations due to the disruption of gasoline supply in the wake of Hurrican Katrina have resulted in gas prices of more than $3.00 a gallon in Honolulu, with significantly higher prices on the Neighbor Islands.

Did I change too much? Did I change the meaning of the sentence? Maybe you can login to Wikinews and edit my edit?

 

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