Confusing Characters and Actions 1: Car Recall Letter


Characters
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20 minutes


Distribute the handout. Read aloud (or have a student read aloud). Ask students to identify the subjects and verbs in each sentence (it's a good idea to have already reviewed how to locate the subject and verb) have students do this with a partner; some of them have shaky grammar skills). Ask students to summarize what's really going on in the letter. Talk about what's strange about the characters and actions: they're all fairly obscure (none of them refer to the driver, the car manufacturer, crashing, dying, etc.). Ask students to fill out the translation sheet.
 
Scoll down for the handouts, a list of subjects and verbs, and the translation.
_________________________________________________________________________

This is the text of an actual automobile recall letter. (I've left out the final paragraph asking the reader to bring the car in.)
 
Circle the verbs. Underline the subjects.
 
(1) A defect which involves the possible failure of a frame
 
(2) support plate may exist on your vehicle. This plate (front
 
(3) suspension pivot bar support plate) connects a portion of the
 
(4) front suspension to the vehicle frame, and its failure could
 
(5) affect vehicle directional control, particularly during heavy
 
(6) brake application. In addition, your vehicle may require
 
(7) adjustment service to the hood secondary catch system. The
 
(8) secondary catch may be misaligned, so that the hood may not be
 
(9) adequately restrained to prevent hood fly-up in the event the
 
(10) primary catch is inadvertently left unengaged. Sudden hood
 
(11) fly-up beyond the secondary catch while driving could impair
 
(12) driver visibility. In certain circumstances, occurrence of
 
(13) either of the above conditions could result in vehicle crash
 
(14) without prior warning.
_________________________________________________________________________

Translate the letter: change the subjects and verbs into more obvious characters and actions. (To clarify the meaning, you can add helping verbs before the action or other words after the action.)
 
(1) A defect which involves the possible failure of a frame support plate may exist on your vehicle. This plate (front suspension pivot bar support plate) connects a portion of the front suspension to the vehicle frame, . . .
 
Character Action
 
____________________ has defect
____________________ fail
____________________ connect
 
(2) . . . and its failure could affect vehicle directional control, particularly during heavy brake application.
 
____________________ fail
____________________ not steer
____________________ brake
 
(3) In addition, your vehicle may require adjustment service to the hood secondary catch system. The secondary catch may be misaligned. . .
 
____________________ adjust
____________________ not align
 
(4) . . . so that the hood may not be adequately restrained to prevent hood fly-up in the event the primary latch is inadvertently left unengaged.
 
____________________ not engage
____________________ not restrain
____________________ fly up
 
(5) Sudden hood fly-up beyond the secondary catch while driving could impair driver visibility.
 
____________________ fly up
____________________ drive
____________________ not see
 
(6) In certain circumstances, occurrence of either of the above conditions could result in vehicle crash without prior warning.
 
____________________ occur
____________________ crash
____________________ warn
 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------List of subjects and verbs:
 
defect, plate, failure, vehicle, secondary catch, hood, primary catch, hood fly-up, occurrence
involves, may exist, connects, could affect, may require, may be misaligned, may not be restrained, is left, could improve, could result
 
 
Translation:
 
1. your car
frame support plate/front suspension will
plate may not
 
2. steering could
you will
you won't be able to
 
3. we need to
we did
 
4. secondary catch may
primary latch will
hood will
 
5. hood will
(while) you
you can
 
6. accidents could
you could
nothing will