On the length and quality of sentences in the English language.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by studiot, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. studiot

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    Here is the first sentence from the 'Preparatory Memoir' of a book in my collection.

    Prizes for guessing the title and approx date.

    " In the year 1688, on the second day of the month of May, there was born in Lombard Street, London, a child who was destined, very early in his life, to polish the English language to the highest pitch; and to give utterance in eloquent words, many of which have become proverbial, to the peculiar common sense and thought of his country. "

    I urge members to strive to 'polish the English language'.
     
  2. Dave

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    I have a pretty good idea...

    It is an art. Perhaps we can have a competition to see which member can write the most eloquent and "polished" English description of some mundane electronics device!

    Dave
     
  3. KL7AJ

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    This was written ABOUT Alexander Pope, and I believe BY Alexander Pope

    eric
     
  4. Dave

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    That is who I was going to say ;)

    Dave
     
  5. studiot

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    Interesting to see you read literature other than 'Songs of the High North' up in Santa Land.

    My point is that sentence was so well written that it is easy to follow, despite its length.

    If someone so many hundreds of years ago could achieve this, why can't we today?
     
  6. KL7AJ

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    http://www.amazon.com/Plasma-Dreams-Eric-Nichols/dp/1413748260

    I've written three novels, too. I'm currently trying to find a publisher for Steel Stonehenge, the "prequel" to Plasma Dreams. :)


    eric
     
  7. studiot

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    Congratulations I'll look out for it (them).

    Now look what I've started, this is proving to be an interesting thread.

    There is a scheme in the UK, whereby authors get paid everytime someone takes their book out of a public library (only fair really).

    Do you have such in Alaska?
     
  8. Dave

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    That's is likely because today we have computers which remove the necessity for being able to properly spell and structure grammatically accurate sentences. Plus one could argue the virtues of the modern curriculum for English which creates a culture of sloppy English and consequently lowers the expectations of the reader (at least we could for the UK, studiot).

    How long before we start analysing (and criticising) what and how we write in this thread?!

    Good job, Eric.

    Dave
     
  9. KL7AJ

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    Don't I wish! I only get a royalty check from the publisher based on the number of books the house sells. If a book is resold, I don't get a dime for the transaction. Lots of writers are wringing their hands over the numbers of "almost" new books sold on the internet....over and over again. The only way you can beat it is to get a BIG advance...which is about .00000001% of all writers!

    Eric
     
  10. beenthere

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    To come back a bit to the topic, the question is interesting to think about. Are quality and length really related when writing English?

    I might say that the perceived relationship is the inverse, having tried to read through so many long and unpunctuated posts.

    There is a level where command of the language becomes significant in order to put together an articulate question. It is also notable that many native English speakers write more poorly than those who have learned English as a second language.

    I might say that sentence length and quality may be an accidental relationship. That is, if one can write with quality, then long sentences may readily flow from that.
     
  11. KL7AJ

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    I'm from the old school, where they used to teach the diagramming of sentences. My 8th grade teacher, Mr. Yarbrough, had us doing almost nothing but diagramming sentences for a whole year. One of my classmates said,
    This is really hard!"
    Mr. Yarbrough replied, without missing a beat. "Of course it's hard. That's why it's called a SENTENCE."

    I've never forgotten that...for 40 years!

    ERic
     
  12. dogar sahab

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    The thread below this thread in OFF-TOPIC forums,I have given the url of my blog which is very closly related to english literature but no1 has bothered giving me any review...
    Those who are ardent english reader must look at it!!!!
     
  13. thingmaker3

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    Alexander Pope and his contemporaries used a writing instrument to commit the composition of their thoughts to paper or parchment. Said writing instrument was formed from the quill of the feather of a goose or other appropriate bird, and cut skillfully to shape with a small knife made for the purpose. (Said knife still bears the name of it's purpose: "pen knife.")

    I have written with such an instrument, or attempted to. I strongly urge others to attempt the same. I found myslelf much more a part of the process than when using a modern ball-point. The experience, for me, was similar to shaping steel with files or chisels instead of grinders and milling machines: Slower, but somehow more determined and more craftsmanlike.

    I was very sloppy with the quill pen. I don't know how much practice would be needed to achieve the smooth hand displayed by so many literate folk in the centuries in question. But I do suspect strongly the medium influenced the degree of craft, much as hand tools lend more attention to detail than power tools do.
     
  14. Wendy

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    As they say at my workplace, "Quality before Quantity".
     
  15. circuitashes

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    Knowing what this site is about - "ALL ABOUT CIRCUITS" - , wouldn't such a competition, one way or the other, result in the following?

    1. Wittingly/Unwittingly set a standard unusually high for a platform such as AAC, where questions/thoughts expressed in very simple English not only suffice but are actually the most effective.

    2. Convert members, subconsciously/unconsciously, into English examiners, which COULD PROBABLY result in their giving less attention to their interactions on technical matters - for which reason AAC, i assume, was created.

    3. Making posters unnecessarily self-conscious, especially in cases where they are capable of penning down syntactically correct but simple sentences as opposed to the more 'ELOQUENT and POLISHED' ones.

    IF I AM BEING PARANOID, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
     
  16. studiot

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    I am really hoping it would discourage posters, who often know better, spelling 'you' as 'U' or 'thanks' as 'thx' or worse.

    I am not the only one to report that this type of discourtesy does not engender a spirit of helpful response.

    Producing a (half ways decent) response usually takes considerably more effort than some questioners seems prepared to put in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  17. Dave

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    My suggestion of the literary competition was more tongue-in-cheek ;)

    Dave
     
  18. KL7AJ

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    Actually, my "Opus of Amateur Radio Knowledge and Lore" is being reviewed by ARRL even as we speak. If it gets published, 'twill be a literary masterpiece indeed. :)

    eric
     
  19. m4yh3m

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    Apr 28, 2004
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    With all due respect, please keep in mind English, being universally available -- and most often broken/incorrect/improper, has morphed from a means of "communication" to simply "information interchange". At least, that's how I perceive it. With so many different nations using English, and all walks of life butchering it, it seems the only real use of it is to inform. What convinced me of this? I always hear people say "I don't know how to say what I'm feeling". In our vast technological superiority, we've yet to produce a new generation of Shakespeares, Longfellows, Frosts, Chaucers, Alighieris, Fitzgeralds, and more. Society has shifted from "reading to enjoy" to "reading to inform". I die a little when I hear someone say "You think you're so smart because you use big words" -- even when those words were commonplace less than 5 years ago. Fluidity of writing and proper spelling are drowning in the sea of "get the point across without wasting my time".
     
  20. Wendy

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    I don't know, you look around and most the folks here are avid readers. I don't see the book stores closing either. Given the current economy, they might even get more popular. I've had my nose buried in a book all my life, was good at avoiding walls without looking up. It's the coat racks that will get you.
     
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