Paternity and pronouns

“Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she and Trump had an affair in 2006, after he married first lady Melania Trump and she gave birth to their son, Barron.”

Okay, we all know who gave birth to whom, but it’s not great writing.

Why not? Because of the pronouns.

A pronoun is a cheap substitute. You have to watch it (that’s a pronoun; sorry) like a hawk.

First, she refers to Stephanie. So our low-bandwidth English-language brain has assigned to she the identity of Stephanie.

But then, before we even get out of this sentence, there’s another she — so we’re required to switch the identity of this pronoun. Assuming I’ve interpreted the sentence correctly. The fact that I’m not entirely sure is the fault of the pronouns.

This sentence is further complicated by other pronouns: he refers to Trump, their refers to, uh, Trump and Melania, right? I think so.

But in a sentence this long, with so many pieces, connected by whose and after and and … well, it’s hard to manage the meanings. By the time we get to the period at the end of the sentence, it’s possible that a chihuahua got a medical degree in Griffith, Indiana.

Better to write short sentences, and avoid pronouns:

“Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she and Trump had an affair in 2006, after he married first lady Melania Trump and Daniels gave birth to their son, Barron.”

Wait, did I get it wrong?

* * *

(P.S. It just occurs to me, you may be interested in even less significant amusements from Doug Brendel. Please visit Outsidah.com and click on “Follow” for occasional humorous observations about life in small-town New England.)

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