Engl 396 Tanya Ayala – Lesson 9


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Engl 396 Tanya Ayala – Lesson 9

  1. 1. Lesson Nine : Elegance
  2. 2.  Relentless simplicity can be dry, like unsalted meat and potatoes. A flash of elegance can fix a thought in our minds and give us a flicker of pleasure. J. Williams thinks the most elegant elegance is disarming simplicity, “when you think you have written something fine, strike it out”. Knowing the devices of clarity and elegance is not the same as knowing how to use them.
  3. 3.  A graceful sentence has balance and symmetry among its parts, echoing another in sound, rhythm, structu re, and meaning.
  4. 4.  The most common balance is based on coordination. In the following slides, we’ll look at two versions of the same sentence, one of which is balanced and one of which is not.
  5. 5. “The national unity of a free people depends upona sufficiently even balance of political power tomake it impracticable for an administration to bearbitrary against a revolutionary opposition that isirreconcilably opposed to it.”
  6. 6. “The national unity of a free people dependsupon a sufficiently even balance of politicalpower to make it impracticable for theadministration to be arbitrary and for theopposition to be revolutionary and irreconcilable.”
  7. 7.  Why is the second version balanced?  We hear one clause and phrase echo another in word order, sound, and meaning.  Each significant word in one phrase echoes another in its corresponding one: ▪ “For the administration to be arbitrary and for the opposition to be revolutionary and irreconcilable.”  Lippmann balances the phrasal topics of administration and opposition, and the stressed sounds and meanings of arbitrary, revolutionary, and irreconcilable.
  8. 8.  We can also balance structures that are not grammatically coordinate.
  9. 9.  Subject balances the object:  Scientists | whose research | creates revolutionary views of the universe | invariably confuse | those of us | who | construct reality from our common-sense experience of it. Predicate of a relative clause in a subject balances the predicate of the sentence:  A government | that is unwilling to | listen | to the| moderate hopes | of | its citizenry | must eventually | answer | to the| harsh justice | of | its revolutionaries.
  10. 10.  A direct object balances the object of a preposition: Those of us concerned with our school systems will not sacrifice | the intellectual growth of | our innocent children | to| the social engineering of | incompetent bureaucrats.
  11. 11.  Here are some first halves of sentences to finish with balancing last halves.  Those who argue stridently over small matters...  We should pay more attention to those politicians who tell us how to make what we have better than to those...  Some teachers mistake neat papers that rehash old ideas for... Example: Those who keep silent over the loss of small freedoms...will be silenced when they protest the loss of large ones.
  12. 12.  Those who argue stridently over small matters are unlikely to think clearly about large one. We should pay more attention to those politicians who tell us how to make what we have better than to those who tell us how to get what we don’t have. Some teachers mistake neat papers that rehash old ideas for great thoughts wrapped in impressive packaging
  13. 13.  Find a key noun just before the tacked-on clause, pause after it with a comma, repeat the noun, and continue with a restrictive relative clause begining with that.  The British Empire brought its version of administrative bureaucratic order to societies around the globe, an order that would endure in those lands long after Britons retreated to their own shores. The resumptive modifier repeats a key word, order.
  14. 14.  Rhythmical balance is  By using and, or, nor, and usually created when the yet, we can easily balance first element in a balance is non-coordinated phrases shorter than the next ones. and clauses. The most striking feature of  Used prudently, these elegant prose is balanced devices can emphasize an sentence structures. important point or conclude a line of reasoning with a flourish.
  15. 15.  How you begin a sentence determines its clarity; how you end it determines its rhythm and grace.
  16. 16.  We expect words that deserve stress (heavy words) at the end of a sentence. A sentence that ends on words of slight grammatical weight (light words) may feel anticlimactic.  Prepositions = Light  Adjectives/Adverbs = Heavier  Nouns/Nominalizations = Heaviest
  17. 17.  ...until in God’s good time, the New World, with all its { power and might } steps forth to {the rescue and the liberation} of the old. – Winston Churchill  He could have written:  ...until the New World rescues us.
  18. 18.  Revise the following sentence using light/heavy words appropriately: “Studies into intellectual differences among races is a project that only the most politically naive psychologist is willing to give support to.”
  19. 19.  “Studies into intellectual differences among races is a project that only the most politically naive scientist is willing to support.”
  20. 20.  Williams gives us four ways to end a sentence with special emphasis:1. of + heavy word2. Echoing salience3. Chiasmus4. Suspension
  21. 21.  In other words, a prepositional phrase introduced by “of”. Back to Churchill’s example: ...the rescue and the liberation of the old.  The light of, and lighter a or the quickens the rhythm of a sentence just before the stress of the climactic monosyllable, old.
  22. 22.  The following example is ‘flat’. “In the second century AD, the Roman Empire comprehended the earth’s fairest, most civilized part. Ancient renown and disciplined valour guarded its extensive frontiers.”
  23. 23.  In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, AND the most civilized portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown AND disciplined valour.
  24. 24.  These sentences end weakly. Edit them for clarity and concision, then revise them so that they end on more heavily stressed words. 1. If we invest our sweat in these projects, we must avoid appearing to work only because we are interested in ourselves. 2. Throughout history, science has made progress because dedicated scientists have ignored a hostile public that is uninformed. Example: “Our interest in paranormal phenomena testifies to the fact that we have empty spirits and shallow minds.” Our interest in paranormal phenomena testifies to the emptiness of our spirits and the shallowness of our minds.
  25. 25.  1. If we invest our sweat in these projects, we must avoid appearing to be working only for our own self-interest. 2. Throughout history, science has progressed because dedicated scientists have ignored the hostility of an uninformed public.
  26. 26.  At the end of a sentence, readers hear special emphasis when a stressed word or phrase balances the sound or meaning of an earlier one. When we hear a stressed word echo an earlier one, these balances become even more emphatic. Example from Peter Gay’s Style in History:  Apart from a few mechanical tricks of rhetoric, manner is indissolubly linked to matter; style shapes, and in turn is shaped by substance.
  27. 27.  From the Greek word for “crossing”. It balances elements in two parts of a sentence; the second part reverses the order of the elements in the first part. Example: A concise style can improve both | our own (1A) thinking (1B) | and | our readers’ (2A) understanding (2B). A concise style can improve not only | our own (1A) thinking (1B) | but | the understanding (2B) of our readers (2A).  The first sentence does not use chiasmus; the second does.
  28. 28.  You can end a sentence with a dramatic climax. The less often you use it, the bigger its bang when you do.  Self-consciously elegant writers often begin a sentence with a series of parallel and coordinated phrases and clauses just so that they can delay and thereby heighten a sense of climax
  29. 29.  Exercise 4: What did Fallows do to make this sentence suspenseful? If [journalists] held themselves as responsible for the rise of public cynicism as they hold “venal” politicians and the “selfish” public: if they considered that the license that they have to criticize and defame comes with an implied responsibility to serve the public – if they did all or any of these things, they would make journalism more useful, public life stronger, and themselves far more worthy of esteem - James Fallows. Breaking The News
  30. 30.  Fallows opens that sentence with:  three if-clauses, then ends it with  a triple coordination ending on its longest member, which itself ends with an of + nominalization.
  31. 31.  When writers combine all these elements in a single sentence, we know they are aiming for something special.
  32. 32.  Most writer’s don’t plan the length of their sentences. Artful writers use the length of a sentence for a purpose Short sentences can be used:  to strike a note of urgency  terse certainty  passion
  33. 33.  Extravagantly long sentences are also used by self-conscious stylists The point:  “Think about the length of your sentences only if they are all longer than thirty words or so or shorter than fifteen. You sentences will vary naturally if you edit them... But if the occasion allows, don’t be reluctant to experiment.”
  34. 34.  Look at the following passage and try combining the short sentences to change its style: “The teacher or lecturer is a danger. He very seldom recognizes his nature or his position. The lecturer is a man who must talk for an hour. France may possibly have acquired the intellectual leadership of Europe when their academic period was cut down to 40 minutes. I also have lectured. The lecturer’s first problem is to have enough words to fill 40 to 60 minutes. The professor is paid for his time, his results are almost impossible to estimate...”
  35. 35.  Clarity, vigour, symmetry, and rhythm are great achievements. But that does not excite us to admire the reach of its imagination.
  36. 36.  Passage without metaphors:...however much we like that moment, we know that its perpetuation would interrupt and spoil the movement of the melody. We begin to fidget, feeling he has denied the natural rhythm, has interrupted the regular movement from beginning to end, and that though he makes a pretense of wholeness, it is in fact a repeated end.
  37. 37. ...If the symphony tries to go on too long, if at a certain point the composer exhausts his creative ability and tries to carry on just for the sake of filling in the required space of time, then we begin to fidget in our chairs, feeling that he has denied the natural rhythm, has broken the smooth curve from birth to death, and that though a pretense of life is being made, it is in fact a living death. Alan W. Watts, The Meaning of Happiness
  38. 38.  Metaphors serve different ends, depending on context.  Used to make language more intense  Used to explain  Used to play Be careful that a metaphor does not distort what we want to express.
  39. 39.  “Societies give birth to new values through the osmotic flow of daily social interaction. Conflicts evolve when old values collide with new, a process that frequently spawns a new set of values that synthesizes the conflict into a reconciliation of opposites.” “The classic blitzkrieg relies on a tank-heavy offensive force, supported by ground-support aircraft, to destroy the defender’s ability to fight by running amuck in his undefended rear, after penetrating his forward defenses.”
  40. 40.  We all write unfortunate metaphors, so when you do, don’t think you’re the only one who has. The only way to master them is to keep trying.
  41. 41.  The risk in striving for elegance is that you fail spectacularly and never risk it again. Williams encourages us to accept with good humour those first failures that we all survive. You won’t acquire an elegant style just by reading the book. You must read those who write elegantly until their style runs along your muscles and nerves.
  42. 42.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mait/5184709006/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/rahulpradhan/4956527456/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/42000933@N02/4076938462/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/dicknella/52748429/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/sepehrehsani/5766453552/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsprig/5472428803/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewvenn/366873545/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/rubberdragon/6258677092/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/joriel/2360038974/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/suewaters/1842179165/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/vasta/12867185/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/marxpix/2223146662/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/sterlic/4299631538/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/croland/5162735235/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalydose/324264361/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/deathtogutenberg/2697035003/