Turn in your Cover Letters and Résumés before you leave today.
Plan for the Day
- Career discussion catch up if needed
- Prose Revisions
- Webpage Catch up
Overview for Revising Prose
Refining our prose takes lots of time and won’t happen overnight. The first thing to do is to actually re-read your work. Don’t rely solely on spell checker…it ain’t that good. We will go over Chapter 4 in Tebeaux and Dragga as well as the Revising Prose document over the next few class periods (also on Canvas). Our discussions won’t follow any order from your textbook, but here’s a tentative order below:
- Discuss Doublespeak
- Discuss Plain Language
- Practice topic sentences (maybe)
- Consider the “art” of euphemisms
- Revising Prose
I’m curious to know if you’ve heard of “Doublespeak” or “Gobbledygook” or “Political Rhetoric.”
- What is doublespeak?
- Where is it normally found?
- How do we avoid it?
- Does it somehow reflect our social attitudes and values (or lack thereof)? (consider apathy)
My attempt is for once to “practice what I preach” (although you know I don’t actually preach), and work from the global to local level with sentence-related revisions.
But isn’t plain language just that—plain? Well, yes. But being plain in the sense of clear and concise is a good thing. Don’t think of plain as dumbed down or unsophisticated. Writing in a plain style means you write in a reader-oriented way—you communicate your ideas effectively, so the reader doesn’t have to do all the work or guess at your meanings; language, after all, can be ambiguous. As a disclaimer, I will tell you that my dissertation advisors would have loved for me to follow this advice. It is difficult to write efficiently and in a plain style. But that’s why we revise—to clean up our prose.
Remember, no one writes because they fetishize grammatically correct sentences; writers write to communicate; professional writers write to communicate in their careers. Regardless of the writing context, all writers must write and subsequently revise with the audience and communication purpose in mind.
In pairs, discuss the following issues:
- What is jargon? When is it appropriate?
- What on earth is efficient prose?
- How do I elevate my writing in order to sound better?
- When is it appropriate to lie? (obviously, this is a trick question in the context of technical/professional communication)
- With all this cool technology, why can’t I just get a computer to do my writing?
Did you know there’s actually an organization call The Plain Language Association International? Check it out.
The English Department’s very own Deborah Bosley (emeritus) is a member of the above group and was interviewed about language and policy making.
Also, check out what Maxine C. Hairston found regarding what businesses want from employees regarding communication skills. I question if grammar is the golden ticket, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. The Hairston link is for your further inquiry.
This call for efficiency is culturally based to some extent. Although we’ll talk more about intercultural communication in a few weeks, I want to point out that the lessons on Plain Language that we’re going over are Western-centric ones–they adhere to our “system’s” desire for efficiency and increased productivity. Our concept of efficiency may be very different from another culture’s ideas about efficiency and effective communication.
We are going to begin our sentence-level exercises. These “lessons” are for you to carry with you for the rest of the semester.
Is “Funner” a word? Think about why or why not for tomorrow (7/13). Enjoy.
Homework and Future Work
We’ll continue these lessons tomorrow, so please take a look at these practice sentences tonight. I’m not collecting them, but have them completed for tomorrow.
Your Prose Revision assignment (three paragraphs) is due on Monday (7/17).