My normal human friends put their prepositions of time at the beginning or end of the sentence: "This morning, I got high"; "I got high this morning." Yet journalists always seem to stick it between the subject and verb: "The governor yesterday announced…" Is there any reason for this? —Grammatically Challenged

Clear writing is, obviously, a major part of the journalist's craft. This necessarily includes the ability to unerringly put one's finger on the word that most succinctly sums up the situation under discussion. In this case, that word is "busted."

The thread you're pulling on, Challenged, is part of an ugly linguistic sweater called "journalese," which has been haphazardly knitted over the years out of varying skeins of clichés, stilted constructions, and painfully extended metaphors.

Journalese is defined by Follett's Modern American Usage as "a tone of contrived excitement." That's a little harsh, but it's true that news writers are always trying to punch up their copy, since it usually needs to contain more facts than are, strictly speaking, interesting. (There's a reason jokes don't begin, "At 2:35 pm on Friday, May 3, Joe Hall of Rye, N.Y., walked into a bar.")

Here's the theory of the midsentence time stamp: If you start the sentence with the date, it sounds like the beginning of a legal document, and if you end with it, people wonder why they're still reading. So you stick it in the middle, and hope the suspense over what the verb is going to be will sort of carry the reader through.

Even in the journalistic community, plenty of sources say this usage violates the customary word order of English and should be avoided. That said, most critics save the bulk of their contempt for an even more identifiable characteristic of journalese: its fondness for clichés.

Scenarios are always "worst-case," indictments always "searing," crises always "burgeoning," and to hear the press tell it, there are more "firestorms of criticism" than there are firestorms of actual fire.

You can play this game for hours, and indeed, many pundits do, especially near holidays when deadlines loom (ahem). In any case, whether journalism can triumph over journalese remains to be seen. In the meantime, life goes on!