Tuesday, November 06, 2007

'West Virginia. W-e-s-t V-i-r'

I've mentioned this before, but as we now move into more exciting immigration forms, I can't help but laugh again over one form's absurdly broad question:

List your present and past membership in or affiliation with every organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society or similar group in the United States or in other places since your 16th birthday. Include any foreign military service in this part. If none, write "none." Include the name(s) of organization(s), location(s), dates of membership, from and to, and the nature of the organization(s). If additional space is needed, use a separate piece of paper.
Worth noting though - an older version presents the question thusly:

List your present and past membership in or affiliation with every political organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society or similar group in the United States or in other places since your 16th birthday. Include any foreign military service in this part. If none, write "none." Include the name(s) of organization(s), location(s), dates of membership, from and to, and the nature of the organization(s). If additional space is needed, use a separate piece of paper.
Catch that? Up there in the first line? The addition, or more precisely the subsequent deletion, of the word "political." Intentional? Oversight? Hyper-vigilant anti-terrorism measure aimed at catching people who don't consider their anti-American cult a political organization so much as a social-club with aggressive weekend activities?

Of course, perhaps it's also a nice example of grammatical issues. How do you read the sentence with the addition of "political?" Does "political" apply to all the words in the series? Or just to organizations, leaving "associations, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or similar group" more broadly applicable? Does the "or" at the end of the list answer the question? I think I'd read "political" as applying to the list of potentially politically-slanted groups, based on the "or," along with a natural reading of the sentence and, of course, my innate desire to avoid work wherever possible. Can the key to correct interpretation be in relying on the relative laziness of the reader during construction? Maybe.

1 comment:

redneck muppet said...

The best part is that I wore my K/E fleece today.