The Kankedort Page
Daniel T. Kline, Dept. of English, U of Alaska Anchorage
Woodcut of London, from Richard Pinson's edition of the Canterbury Tales, c. 1526
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"But now to yow, ye loveres that ben here, / Was Troilus nought in a kankedort, . . . "?
Troilus and Criseyde 2: 1751-52

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Error Codes for Written Work, English/Kline
(with thanks to Suzanne Forster!)

You've always wondered what your English teacher's unintelligible comments meant...  Although I am breaking a centuries' old tradition of silence sworn by all English professors to keep their comments secret, the true meaning of these codes must now be revealed! 
awk  

awkward phrasing:  Can you make this sentence read more clearly and easily? 

chop choppy sentences: Can you combine or revise so that the text reads more smoothly?
cs comma splice: Two independent clauses (complete statements or thoughts) are linked or “spliced” by a comma. A period and a new sentence, a semi-colon, or a comma & conjunction are required to link two independent clauses.
dm dangling modifier: The subject of the underlined modifying element lacks a referent in the sentence. For example, Having moved all the furniture into the garage, there was no room for the car is incorrect because the subject of having moved does not appear in the sentence. (The reader expects the subject of having moved to be the subject of the main clause.) Because we moved all the furniture into the garage, ...
mm misplaced modifier: The modifying word , phrase, or clause appears in the wrong place in the sentence. Can it be moved closer to the element it modifies?  She wanted him to kiss her badly > She badly wanted him to kiss her.
frag sentence fragment: This is an incomplete sentence, one missing a subject or a predicate.
fus fused sentence: two independent clauses (complete thoughts) being liked or “fused”  without punctuation. Also called a "run on" sentence.
// faulty parallelism: Sentence elements meant to express equivalent ideas should use equivalent grammatical structures. e.g.. Our present system is costing us profits and reduces our productivity. > Our present system is costing us profits and reducing our productivity
passive passive: This sentence would be clearer or stronger written in the active voice. A passive sentence in which the direct object (receiver of the action) is shifted to the subject position. The auxiliary be is used with the past participle form of the verb. E.g. Independence is valued most by the incapacitated.  > The incapacitated value independence most
poss possessive: To indicate the possessive, add an apostrophe plus s at the end of a singular word or of a plural word that does not end in s. At the end of a plural word ending in s add the apostrophe only. Two cues for the possessive are 1) doubled nouns e.g. book’s title, and 2) the ability to reverse the order of the nouns using of, e.g. the title of the book. Note: Its vs it’s: It’s is a contracted form of it is (It + is = it’s). Its is a possessive pronoun
s-v agr subject-verb agreement: A singular subject is being used with a plural verb or vice versa. For example, They is going to the party in Atlanta next week
n-p agr noun-pronoun agreement: A pronoun does not agree in number with the noun to which it refers, e.g. The student must be careful because they can unwittingly plagiarize other texts by having poor note-taking habits
trans transition needed:  The relationship between ideas needs to be made clearer with words such as however, but, moreover, as well, because, therefore, etc
wordy

wordy     By being more concise, the paper would be more focused. Check for these common causes:

  • Doubled adjectives, adverbs, & nouns, e.g. research and studies, full and complete, true and accurate

  • Lengthy phrases, e.g. at this point in time > now or currently; for the reason that > because

  • Redundancies, e.g. initially began, completely finish, large in size. in a confused state, various different

  • Meaningless modifiers, e.g. sort of, very, basically, generally, actually, practically, certainly, etc.

  • Unnecessary prepositions, e.g. the increase in the number of women > increased number of women

wc / diction word choice: Check the meaning of this word in the dictionary. Is there a more appropriate word?
? confusing, faulty logic: This sentence or passage doesn’t make sense. Can this be rephrased so that its meaning is clearer?

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1998, Daniel T. Kline. All rights reserved. Page launched on 01.01.98. Last updated on 12.21.06.