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Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

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: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby richvh » Wed 04.09.2008 9:38 pm

coco wrote:Thank you, everyone, for your explanations.
I thought the essay for "academic bad writing" could be clear and easy to read. I found that it is still very hard to distinguish between good writing and bad one to me. It must be stupid that I've selected this essay, but I'd still like to find a few more.


I think this is a good example of bad writing.

The bad writing in question is not the merely quotidian clunkiness and hack writing that's inevitable in a vast profession under constant pressure to publish

I assume that "Clinkiness" is a noun of "clunky". Is it a coined word?


No, it's a regular formation. The -ness nominalizing suffix is very productive. "Clunkiness" gets over 30,000 Google hits.

I was wondering what "a vast profession" refers to.
Is the definition of "vast" No.4?
4. very great in degree, intensity

No, it's more like:
1. of very great area or extent; immense: the vast reaches of outer space.


I have no idea about the following structure.
it's the notoriously opaque, preening, self-admiring, inflated prose of 'theory.'

It seems that "Notoriously" is an adverb.
An adverb could modify adjectives, if I'm not wrong.
"Preening" and "self-admiring" look nouns to me.
So "notoriously" modifies only "opaque"?
I assume it as "It's the notorious prose of 'theory' that is opaque, preening, self-admiring and inflated." Is it wrong?

The participles preening, self-admiring, and inflated are all acting as adjectives, modifying "prose of theory." "The prose of theory is notorious for being opaque, preening, self-admiring and inflated" is how it should be understood.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby AJBryant » Wed 04.09.2008 9:42 pm

richvh wrote:It isn't "evergreen is vocational", it's "one reason... is vocational." However, the way the sentence is structured makes that hard to realize.


You may be right, but that sentence is so poorly framed that it's actually ambiguous. Of course, "evergreen is vocational" is pretty meaningless, but "one reason... is vocational" at least makes a bit of sense. That sentence could really be cleared up -- and helped -- by the addition of a "that", which could point to exactly what the writer was talking about.

Man, I hate writing like this -- academics trying to show how clever they can be.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby fielle » Wed 04.09.2008 9:45 pm

Clunky and clunkiness are a sort of widely-used slang, meaning awkwardness and general unprofessional quality. It's like the opposite of elegant.

"Vast profession" is talking about the profession of writing (or perhaps academia), and vast means extremely large and widespread. There are millions of people writing papers and essays, and many of them don't know how to write (especially engineers in academia).

Adverbs do modify adjectives, and, in this sentence, "preening" and "self-admiring" are also adjectives, so it modifies the whole list. I think a better translation is "The prose of 'theory' is notorious for being opaque (hard to understand), preening (showing off to others), self-admiring (the writer thinks too highly of himself), and inflated (made to seem more important than it really is)." The prose isn't notorious so much as the characteristics of it are. (richvh translated the sentence exactly the same as I did, but I am posting mine with my additions in hopes of it helping you understand things better.)
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby Gundaetiapo » Wed 04.09.2008 10:22 pm

coco wrote:
it's the notoriously opaque, the preening, the self-admiring, inflated prose of 'theory.'

It seems that "Notoriously" is an adverb.
An adverb could modify adjectives, if I'm not wrong.
So "notoriously" modifies only "opaque"?


Very good question. "notoriously" is an adverb modifying "opaque" as you say, but whether an adverb or adjective applies to all elements in a listing that follows isn't always clear, I think. Consider:

1A: Today I bought a wooden desk, table, and chair.
1B: Today I bought a wooden desk, a table, and a chair.

If someone says 1A, how confident is the listener about whether the table and chair are made of wood? In my opinion, it's ambiguous. But if someone says 1B, I get a sense that the speaker is more clearly indicating that the table and chair are not necessarily wooden.

You can apply the same principle to your "notoriously" sentence.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby coco » Wed 04.09.2008 11:37 pm

Thank you, Rich-san, Fielle-san, Gundaetiapo-san.
Your explanations made the sentence clearer. Now I understand that all lists, which caused bad reputations, works as adjectives.

1A: Today I bought a wooden desk, table, and chair.
1B: Today I bought a wooden desk, a table, and a chair.

If someone says 1A, how confident is the listener about whether the table and chair are made of wood? In my opinion, it's ambiguous. But if someone says 1B, I get a sense that the speaker is more clearly indicating that the table and chair are not necessarily wooden.
This explanation is very clear and useful, Gundaetiapo-san.
I apologize since I made a mistake to edit the part you quoted.
The original is
it's the notoriously opaque, preening, self-admiring, inflated prose of 'theory.'

( I was going to edit my sentence, but I edited original sentence, now I've edited my previous post.)

This is my attempt for the sentence, so far.

ここでいう悪文とは、単にありふれた「ダサさ/ぎこちなさ」や、出版への絶え間ないプレッシャーの下にある広範囲に及ぶ職業につきものの書き殴り文のことではなく、不明瞭で虚飾に満ち、誇張が激しく自画自賛で知られる「学説」の文体のことです。

広範囲に及ぶ職業 wouldn't have "a"( in "a" vast profession). So I must be wrong.
Please feel free to point out any mistakes, thank you.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby Wakannai » Thu 04.10.2008 2:33 am

coco wrote:It must be stupid that I've selected this essay, but I'd still like to find a few more.

[url]
http://ww3.telerama.com/~joseph/cooper/cooper.html[/url]

Mark Twain rarely disappoints.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby AJBryant » Thu 04.10.2008 2:42 am

Wakannai wrote:Mark Twain rarely disappoints.


His treatise on "The Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper" is one of my favorite pieces written in the English language. Not only is it incredibly funny, it's VERY true, and all of it still holds true today.

I wish more writers would read it.


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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby Wakannai » Thu 04.10.2008 4:41 am

AJBryant wrote:
Wakannai wrote:Mark Twain rarely disappoints.


His treatise on "The Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper" is one of my favorite pieces written in the English language. Not only is it incredibly funny, it's VERY true, and all of it still holds true today.

I wish more writers would read it.


Tony


The only bad thing about it, worth pointing out here since coco will be even more confused than me, is a small amount of dated language I just don't understand. Things like: "Be all ready to clench it, boys!" I don't know what this means, but it makes me think of someone in dire need of a toilet. From Mark's comment, however, this has something to do with confidence.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby ss » Thu 04.10.2008 5:43 am

Coco-san wrote:
It must be stupid that I've selected this essay, but I'd still like to find a few more.


I think some articles are beyond my comprehension too, really needs time to digest.
And, btw, each time I read your post, I feel that your English is getting better and better. My Japanese has not reached that level yet. :evil:

It seems that "Notoriously" is an adverb.
An adverb could modify adjectives, if I'm not wrong.
"Preening" and "self-admiring" look nouns to me.
So "notoriously" modifies only "opaque"?


I'm sure you know this. In English, it is common to use more than one adjective before a noun. And, we can think of a combination of adjectives that belong to the categories of shape, size, color, age, origin, opinion, material and purpose.

For example:

* Pendora is a beautiful, tall, honest, young, Eurasian girl.
* Mr. Smith hurriedly got into the small, blue, broken, stolen car.
* It was gradually soaring downwards and outwards, hoping to land on the greyish rocky, blazing hot, narrow-flat-piece ledge.

------
Thanks for that, I'm learning too.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 04.10.2008 12:55 pm

AJBryant wrote:
richvh wrote:It isn't "evergreen is vocational", it's "one reason... is vocational." However, the way the sentence is structured makes that hard to realize.


You may be right, but that sentence is so poorly framed that it's actually ambiguous. Of course, "evergreen is vocational" is pretty meaningless, but "one reason... is vocational" at least makes a bit of sense. That sentence could really be cleared up -- and helped -- by the addition of a "that", which could point to exactly what the writer was talking about.

Man, I hate writing like this -- academics trying to show how clever they can be.


Tony, it's the reason I hated math even though I was an Engineering/Architecture major. All the math professors were so busy trying to outstage each other, they forgot to teach us anything. And most of what they taught was so far out there that none of it could be completely resolved.

Nothing worse than hearing and seeing the theory of relativity on day one of advanced algebra. that kind stuff is just plain stupid.


@wakkanai

"Be all ready to clench it, boys!"

that sentence out of context means absolutely nothing anyways, so who cares. If you put it in context with the rest of what was written it is actually easily understood. with a bit of effort it's not that hard. however, that stand alone sentence is just silly.. and proves nothing ..
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby coco » Thu 04.10.2008 8:15 pm

Thank you, Wakannai-san, for showing the text.
As far as I know, the copyright duration for Mark Twain is over, so I think we can try translating it freely. I'll try it later.

SS-san,
Your example sentences hepl me a lot, thank you.
And thank you for your compliment. I've learnt from TJP. But I'm no better than beginner. I think we can much improve our language ability by asking our questions to TJP since many advanced and skilled members have participated in here.

Astral Abraxas-san,
Thank you for your reply to the other thead/topic. (I can't reply in there because it was locked already.)
I/we have many questions about English grammar, composition, etc., so please keep helping me/us. Thank you.
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby richvh » Thu 04.10.2008 9:41 pm

Wakannai wrote:The only bad thing about it, worth pointing out here since coco will be even more confused than me, is a small amount of dated language I just don't understand. Things like: "Be all ready to clench it, boys!" I don't know what this means, but it makes me think of someone in dire need of a toilet. From Mark's comment, however, this has something to do with confidence.


One should note that the sentence in question is from Cooper, not Twain. I haven't read The Pathfinder (the only Cooper I've read is Last of the Mohicans), but in context it seems to mean "hold onto your wallets" or "grit your teeth (as you pay up)." (I assume there is some sort of betting involved in this shooting match.)
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Re: Bad Reading for "Bad Writing"

Postby AJBryant » Thu 04.10.2008 10:31 pm

richvh wrote:One should note that the sentence in question is from Cooper, not Twain. I haven't read The Pathfinder (the only Cooper I've read is Last of the Mohicans), but in context it seems to mean "hold onto your wallets" or "grit your teeth (as you pay up)." (I assume there is some sort of betting involved in this shooting match.)


Actually, IIRC, that is a dialectical rendering as "this should clinch it [the win in the competition]."

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