an odd example of legalese

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 28 07:06:30 UTC 2012

Since I don't have the full document, I don't know if the complete quote
would have some redeeming features, but I don't see how it could.
> An investigation by the New York Department of Health found "no
> evidence of environmental or infection as the cause of the girls'
> illness," according to department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond. "The
> school is served by a public water system. ... An environmental
> exposure would affect many people."

In case there is any doubt, my concern is over the serialization of
"environmental or infection", particularly without an underlying NP for
"environmental". My guess is that the author either started out with
"environmental cause" and expanded the sentence later or simply assumed
that "environmental" was a modifier for "cause" in its present form. The
former is not particularly interesting as a source of error--mere
inattention--but the latter is. Another possibility is a straight
omission of "exposure"--as it appears in the last sentence.


The American Dialect Society -

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