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  1. 1. Voice, Personal Pronouns and Style Concerns and More Joseph M Williams Style: Towards Clarity and Grace (U Chicago 1990 OWL at Purdue Bill Walsh: The Elephants of Style And Grammar Girl!
  2. 2. No one’s personal voice sounds like this: <ul><li>Utilizing a personal voice is not contingent upon the adoption of the first person point of view in one’s writing, nor is it necessarily to be regarded as synonymous with a writing style that could be termed informal or conversational. </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t talk that way, and writers don’t write that way. But inexperienced writers sometimes do. </li></ul><ul><li>Revision </li></ul><ul><li>Using a personal voice certainly does not require using the first person, nor does it mean being informal or conversational . </li></ul>
  3. 3. In spite of the first person point of view—the use of I—there’s nothing “personal” in these lines: <ul><li>It has long been a tenet of my value system that as a capable individual, I have a social and moral duty to contribute to the improvement of the society in which I live. </li></ul>
  4. 4. A personal voice does not, of course, preclude the use of big words or uncommon words. <ul><li>We hold these tenets of our value system to </li></ul><ul><li>be self-evident. </li></ul><ul><li>We hold these truths to </li></ul><ul><li>be self-evident . </li></ul>
  5. 5. Your Personal Voice <ul><li>Does the language I’m </li></ul><ul><li>using sound natural, like </li></ul><ul><li>something I’d really say? </li></ul><ul><li>Using a personal voice certainly does not require using the first person, nor does it mean being informal or conversational. </li></ul><ul><li>Rather, “personal” in this sense means “natural,” language that a real person would use. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Voice <ul><li>When one sees the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time, the sight is simply breathtaking. </li></ul><ul><li>The problem that one creates is obvious to the ear: The sentence sounds formal and British, like something Prince Charles would say. In American-English, we use you to convey the third-person indefinite sense. You is technically the second person, but the meaning is closer to the indefinite third-person one . </li></ul><ul><li>When you see the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time… </li></ul>
  7. 7. Voice <ul><li>Most of the rooms were evidently used for storage of anthropological items, collected from decades to more than a century ago. You had the sense of a museum of the second order, in which were stored not so much materials that might be of interest as materials that had once been of interest. You could feel the presence of nineteenth-century museum directors engaged in their frock coats…. </li></ul><ul><li>Brocas’s Brain by Carl Sagan </li></ul>
  8. 8. In another passage from A Brief History of Time , Hawking uses mainly the second person, but in one sentence he switches to the first with we and our: <ul><li>Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory….Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory. At least that is what is supposed to happen, but you can always question the competence of the person who carried out the observation. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Revise the following passage to reflect today’s concerns about sexism in language. <ul><li>Of all born creatures, man is the only one that cannot live by bread alone. He lives as much by symbols as by sense report, in a realm compounded of tangible things and virtual images, of actual events and ominous portents, always between fact and fiction. For he sees not only actualities, but meanings. He has, indeed, all the impulses and interests of animal nature; he eats, sleeps, mates, seeks comfort and safety, flees pain, falls sick and dies, just as cats and bears and fishes and butterflies do. But he has something more in his repertoire, too—he has laws and religions, theories and dogmas, because he lives not only through sense but through symbols. That is the special asset of his mind, which makes him the master of earth and all its progeny. </li></ul><ul><li>Susanne K. Langer, “The Prince of Creation,” Fortune (January 1944) </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh <ul><li>Today, we have computers and italics. Underlining is to typed and handwritten papers what italics are to more formal publishing. </li></ul><ul><li>Also, remember that you are in the United States. In American English, commas and periods adjacent to quotation marks go inside the quotation marks. Semicolons and colons go outside. </li></ul><ul><li>Internet: </li></ul><ul><li>Wrong: Bill Walsh runs a Web site called TheSlot.com. </li></ul><ul><li>Right: Bill Walsh runs a Web site called The Slot (www.theslot.com). </li></ul><ul><li>Lies your English teacher told you: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Never split an infinitive. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never end a sentence with a preposition. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never begin a sentence with a conjunction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never use the passive voice. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never write in the first person. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never address the reader directly. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The personal pronoun: If I say each authority has his opinion, I am excluding Barbara Wallraff and so on. Each authority has her opinion sounds patronizing. </li></ul><ul><li>Each authority has their opinion, which applies a plural pronoun to a singular antecedent will have many people reaching for the dunce cap, but it is the best of the imperfect solutions and most likely, will eventually become standard. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing
  13. 13. What are the differences among quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing? <ul><li>Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. </li></ul><ul><li>Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly. </li></ul><ul><li>Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material. </li></ul>
  14. 14. A Paraphrase Is…. <ul><li>Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form. </li></ul><ul><li>One legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source. </li></ul><ul><li>A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Using Quotations <ul><li>Use block quotes whenever your quote exceeds four lines of text: </li></ul>
  16. 16. Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty… <ul><li>Here’s another example from a recent review of the movie “Get Him to the Greek.” In the Contra Costa Times , Randy Myers writes, “The outrageous ‘Greek’ works better than ‘Funny People’ at least in part because Apatow, who tends to make films that meander too much, hands over writing and directing to a protégé.” </li></ul><ul><li>If I wanted to quote Myers, and I had limited space, I could use an ellipsis to shorten the quotation: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The outrageous ‘Greek’ works better than ‘Funny People’ . . . because Apatow hands over writing and directing to a protégé. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t Use Ellipses to Change the Meaning of a Quotation </li></ul>
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