John Keith Communications Logo John Keith Communications   
Technical Writing Pronunciation Oral Fluency Vocabulary Grammar Listening Reading Links Client Services

The "Twisted Luxury" of the Central Chinese Television Building

© John Keith 2007

Double-click on any word to look it up and hear it pronounced in the FreeDictionary.

Hide or Show Text While Practicing Listening.

Rising from Beijing's new Central Business District are the twin towers of the future headquarters of Central Chinese Television. In early November, the two towers joined to form, as the designer, the Dutch architectural firm OMA puts it, " a continuous loop of horizontal and vertical sections that establish an urban site rather than point to the sky". The second building to go up, the Television Cultural Centre, will be seen through the "window" of the loop. It's an award-winning design, but it does have its detractors. The Vancouver Sun reported recently that it will cost a soaring $1.3 billion dollars, and that "the project has stirred much controversy for its twisted structure and luxury".

At first glance, this quotation might seem quite straightforward, but the words "twisted structure and luxury" are in fact ambiguous. Strictly applying the rules of parallelism in grammatical construction, these words can be interpreted in two ways. The newspaper meant either one, that the twisted structure of the building was controversial and that its luxury was also controversial or two, that the building was controversial for both its twisted structure and its twisted luxury.

"Twisted luxury" is a wonderfully evocative phrase and sounds terribly decadent, and for those reasons alone I wish it were true. But most probably, and more prosaically, the Vancouver Sun meant and should have written that the project was controversial "for its twisted structure and for its luxury". This is simply a repetition of the preposition "for", but this small attention to grammatical parallelism would have eliminated any ambiguity and any possible grammatical controversy.

Ironically, the Vancouver Sun, in its criticism of the "twisted" design of the building, should have paid more attention to it's own parallel structure.

(Top of Page)

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional         Valid CSS!