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Advanced Writing concepts.

英語を勉強している方のためのフォーラムです。練習のために英語の文章を投稿してもかまわなく、英語の文法・語彙に関する質問をしてもけっこうです。

RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby clay » Fri 06.29.2007 12:22 pm

I'll have to find me a book by Safire...


Here is a link to an author search on Amazon.

These two books are excellent 'bathroom' books. They reprint his New York Times' column but add reader's comments:

William Safire on Language
Take my Word for it

I think both are out of print, but can be picked up for 1-9 cents (plus high shipping) at Amazon.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby AJBryant » Fri 06.29.2007 1:32 pm

Gundaetiapo wrote:
Except "that" was not "dropped" -- it is optional and stylistic.


Whether it's dropped or not is a semantic argument, and I don't know why you're picking an argument about semantics.


Because semantics matter.

"a dog called Fido" is a possible native English phrase. Whether it's correct grammar or not I couldn't care less, so spare me it. If it suits you, replace my previous post with "a dog named Fido". Same difference.


It is indeed a possible English phrase. Just not there, not without introducing nuance that isn't implied or needed in a sentence without it. Otherwise, punctuation needs to be changed, as well, as Rich points out.

richvh wrote:
In another post, she said she had to learn Japanese and Korean as well as English. Given her location and the lack of mention of Vietnamese, my conclusion is that she isn't a native speaker of English.


Holy crap, in that case I take it back. I'm really impressed at the colloquial skills.

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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby zengargoyle » Fri 06.29.2007 2:13 pm

i could go on and on for hours about grammar, but i don't have the time at the moment...
consider yourselves lucky. :)

regarding colored text: if you use the New Reply or Quote buttons to respond to a post, there is a color selector box that works just like the editing buttons. select some text, select a text color from the drop-down-menu, and presto... colored text. i'm not quite convinced of the need for red/green/blue buttons. (but they could be added if they would be useful...)

regarding strike-through text: good idea... i'll look into adding that option.

regarding timeline: i'm gearing up for a long weekend of real-world work. then monday morning i'm heading back to Virginia for two weeks of vacation (my first vacation in more than a year)... it's very doubtful that i'll be able to do anything for the next few weeks.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 06.29.2007 2:19 pm

richvh wrote:
Gundaetiapo wrote:
"a dog called Fido" is a possible native English phrase. Whether it's correct grammar or not I couldn't care less, so spare me it. If it suits you, replace my previous post with "a dog named Fido". Same difference.


But whether or not "named" or "called" is dropped, the attribute "named/called/- Fido" should be set off by parentheses when not the main clause.

The teacher brought in her dog, named Fido, to show to the class.
The teacher brought in her dog, called Fido, to show to the class.
The teacher brought in her dog, Fido, to show to the class.


If it's a non-restrictive relative clause, sure. But if it's a restrictive relative clause then you don't need the commas. If she has multiple dogs, then "The teacher brought in her dog Fido to show to the class" is fine -- I can see stylistic arguments against "named Fido" or "called Fido", but they're not entirely unworkable.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby clay » Fri 06.29.2007 2:31 pm

regarding timeline: i'm gearing up for a long weekend of real-world work. then monday morning i'm heading back to Virginia for two weeks of vacation (my first vacation in more than a year)... it's very doubtful that i'll be able to do anything for the next few weeks.


Rest well Zen.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby Infidel » Fri 06.29.2007 2:31 pm

Gundaetiapo wrote:
The teacher brings in an old pen that Franklin Delano Roosevelt used during his Presidency


and

The teacher brings in an old pen Franklin Delano Roosevelt used during his Presidency


are equally natural. It's a stylistic thing and has nothing to do with concision.


Second post edited.

While I see your point, I apparently failed to illustrate mine fully so I'll try again.

Yes both sentences are natural. That was my original statement. Both sentences are correct, but the first can be improved. Yes it is a stylistic thing, which is why I titled this thread, "Advanced Writing Concepts." Advanced Writing isn't about fixing errors, it's about improving style. However, to say, "it has nothing to do with concision" is to ignore the definition of the word "concise".

Compare
1. I have found that, "that" can almost always be omitted when used as a conjunction or an adverb. (18 words)
vs,
2. Omit the adverb or conjunction: "that." (6 words)

The problem is that these mean two different things; one is not a simple replacement of the other.


Absolutely.

The point of that example was to show how a sentence could be reduced in the editing process by clarifying one's true intent.

Still, I should have specified this in some way, I'll have to fix that later.

I have the "Dictionary of Concise Writing." on my desk. I don't refer to it very often, because one only needs to read so many examples before the message becomes clear.

random examples from the book:
the act of > delete
"The act of making sketches and writing statements about the problem helps to get the designer off dead center." >>> "Making sketches and writing statements about the problem helps to get the designer off dead center."

feel inside > feel
close down > close
for all intents and purposes > effectively; essentially; in effect; in essence; pratically; virtually.
for your information > delete.
I'm curious why > Why
I mean > delete
qualified expert > expert
put in alphabetical order > alphabetize

and so on.

After reading enough examples and it becomes clear how often words can be deleted without changing the meaning of a sentence in any way.
Last edited by Infidel on Fri 06.29.2007 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby witega » Fri 06.29.2007 3:31 pm

I think Yudan's intended point (and if it wasn't, it should have been) is that you made coco's sentence more concise. But that does not mean you improved it. 'conciseness' is a stylistic matter of taste, not an inherent good. Hemingway is much more concise than Dickens. This does not mean Hemingway is by definition a better writer. It just means each writer's style is more likely to appeal to different tastes.

And as for Kim Sara, she is *correctly* pointing out that, according to the rules taught to most Freshmen Composition students and presumably to second-language learners like herself, without the 'that' your sentence could (possibly should) be interpreted with 'Franklin Delano Roosevelt' as a restrictive appositive and the 'used...' clause as a restrictive adjectival clause meaning:

The teacher brings in an old pen (named) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (which he) used during his Presidency.

The teacher brought in the dog Fido. (restrictive appositive, Fido as opposed to any other dog).
The teacher brought in a dog used in the drug raid (restrictive adjectival clause, this dog as opposed to any other dog).

That no native speaker would read your sentence that way is the difference between prescriptive grammar (or even descriptive grammar painted too broadly) and actual usage, which is why the 'that' can be removed without actually changing the meaning of the sentence.
--contextual understanding: pens don't have names, and we know FDR was a president
--if you have one restrictive clause or appositive, that serves to specify the noun and so any additional clauses are unnecessary for that function (and so are unrestrictive):
He brought the dog Fido, who had been used in the drug raid, to class.
He brought the dog, Fido, used in the drug raid to class.
Different emphasis on what you make restrictive but both more natural sounding than trying to make both restrictive.
Last edited by witega on Fri 06.29.2007 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby Infidel » Fri 06.29.2007 3:57 pm

Some good points especially about the inherent virtue of style.

However, I would contradict you here:

without the 'that' your sentence could (possibly should) be interpreted with 'Franklin Delano Roosevelt' as a restrictive appositive and the 'used...' clause as a restrictive adjectival clause meaning:

The teacher brings in an old pen (named) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (which he) used during his Presidency.


Even if I pretend to ignore the context of unnamed pens and forget that FDR was the president, I'm not seeing it.

to make "Franklin Delano Roosevelt a restrictive appositive "an" would need to be changed to "the" and a comma added.

The teacher brings in the old pen Franklin Delano Roosevelt, used during his (the teacher's) Presidency.
Last edited by Infidel on Fri 06.29.2007 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby witega » Fri 06.29.2007 4:37 pm

<sigh> You're right. I thought a bit about the article but then got busy working and writing at the same time and forgot to come back to it.

The key reason a native speaker wouldn't misread your sentence is because the indefinite article and a restricted appositive never go together. (Although your additional comma actually goes with what I was saying about not having two restrictive phrases. Once Franklin Delano Roosevelt is made restrictive appositive, no additional restriction is necessary making the participle phrase unrestrictive).

Oddly, you can use the indefinite article with restrictive clauses--just not appositives:
He brought a dog used in the drug raid to class.
He brought a dog which had been used in the drug raid to class.
He brought a dog, which had been used in the drug raid, to class.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 06.29.2007 5:30 pm

Well, I agree with the basic idea of S&W's "Omit needless words," but the big question is which words are needless. :D
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby AJBryant » Fri 06.29.2007 8:31 pm

Infidel wrote:
feel inside > feel
close down > close
for all intents and purposes > effectively; essentially; in effect; in essence; pratically; virtually.
for your information > delete.
I'm curious why > Why
I mean > delete
qualified expert > expert
put in alphabetical order > alphabetize

and so on.

After reading enough examples and it becomes clear how often words can be deleted without changing the meaning of a sentence in any way.


While on one hand I see the point, on the other hand I have to say that this would reduce all writing to a bland, flavorless, stylistically least-common denominator.

There's a *reason* we can say either "it burned" or "it went up in smoke," and so on. Otherwise, we end up faced with "don't borrow or lend" instead of "neither a borrower nor a lender be," and "this country was founded 87 years ago" instead of "four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation..."

It's style. It's rhetoric. It's the spice that makes a language work.


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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby tanuki » Fri 06.29.2007 8:56 pm

Tony wrote:
[...]


Yes.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby SenescenceReign » Fri 06.29.2007 9:49 pm

AJBryant wrote:
It's style. It's rhetoric. It's the spice that makes a language work.

I agree with what Tony said and would like to add a bit of my own opinion. To get rid of all our descriptive phrases would be to silence and destroy the art of writing.

However, I want to say that I know exactly where you come from on this, Infidel. In regular, informative, here's just the facts and nothin' but the facts writing, I believe we could all do without the little bits of unimportant fluff. The journalism industry has been spiraling downhill for years now, including everything from the scrawl on CNN to the random sprawling crud that some of our favorite Associated Press journalists crank out day after day. It's why I decided not to continue my journalism career; I couldn't stand to see the way that the language deteriorates over time and in the hands of, "They're not great but at least they'll do," journalists.

Besides, I think that writing for entertainment rather than for information is just as important and infinitely more fun! (I almost put "more funner" just to jab a thorn in everyone's side, but that seems like needless provocation, doesn't it?)
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby Infidel » Fri 06.29.2007 11:53 pm

I agree with what Tony said and would like to add a bit of my own opinion.


That isn't allowed here :P


and "this country was founded 87 years ago" instead of "four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation..."


I've always found that one one of the best examples of all the vices of prosey talk with none of the virtues. It forces the listener to ignore the speaker, turn and ask someone close by what the heck a score is, then mentally calculate an answer all while the speaker keeps on going. That's why people only quote the first sentence, because no one remembers the next 20. They were too busy talking to their neighbors and doing basic math.

Four score and seven is only slightly less annoying than, "Less than 100 years ago but more than 40, in a number of years that is a prime number that rhymes with eleven but begins with an eight, our fathers didn't want to pay taxes so they made a new goverment in order to legally pass the buck to us."
Last edited by Infidel on Sat 06.30.2007 3:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Advanced Writing concepts.

Postby katafei » Sat 06.30.2007 3:47 am

LOL

Did we just use two pages of thead on how we can omit 'that' in order to be more concise?
(not really, I should have posted this sooner, but still ;))

I love this! What's our next topic?
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