Review #1 Due Next Tuesday–9/29
Plan for the Day
- Do HOMEWORK #1 on Canvas before 11:00 pm tonight–9/22
- Sentence Pattern Fun!!!
- Word Usage
Kolln & Gray’s Ch.2 “Sentence Patterns” is very helpful in identifying parts of speech. Although you’ll have to identify sentence patterns for HOMEWORK #1, I’m not asking you to remember each pattern for the rest of the semester; however, knowing them does help recognize parts of speech easier, so it’s a great lesson. Identifying sentence patterns isn’t the most helpful for proofreading, but, as I try to move you towards thinking about re-visioning and considering your writing choices for your own work, understanding the parts of a sentence helps you learn grammar vocabulary, which (in theory) improves your writing. The more choices you’re aware of, the word versatile your writing will be. Remember, this doesn’t mean throw in every technique you learn into each sentence you write–that would be too much. You goal is a lifelong goal to enhance your writing, so, when the occasion for particular technique arises, you can use them effectively. I want you to use these techniques but also appreciate good writing, which an editor must be able to do.
Think of it this way: If you only put butter on your pasta, you’re missing the cornucopia of possible flavors to enhance what is essentially a bland noodle. Which sauce would you rather eat?
|Childish Sauce||Marinara Sauce||Puttanesca Sauce|
extra-virgin olive oil
Roma plum tomatoes
crushed red pepper flakes
Clearly, puttanesca sauce is the more flavorful sauce for mature palates. (*What’s the difference between palate, palette, pallet?) The key isn’t to throw everything into the essay, document, or pot; instead, you should find words, structures, etc. that complement your writing, leaving readers satisfied with your creation. Additionally, you should recognize when certain prose styles are more appropriate than other. You have to remember AUDIENCE and PURPOSE. To stick with our extended metaphor on sauce, consider the above as bland, average, and elevated. You wouldn’t serve puttanesca to children because they can’t appreciate such flavors–they too strong. Likewise, you wouldn’t serve salt and butter with pasta to a group with refined palates, foodies and other such folks. If you’re preparing dinner for more average tastes, you’ll probably serve a typical marinara sauce for dinner. The same logic goes for writing: if your audience is children or readers below an 8th grade level, you’ll aim for more simple prose. If you’re writing for a wide general audience, you’ll aim for an average level of diction and compound sentences but not too many complex sentences. Finally, if you’re writing for an academic or specialized audience, you’ll probably aim for a more elevated prose style.
However, don’t mistake “elevated prose style” for complexity for complexity’s sake. Trying to obfuscate your meaning through cumbersome prose isn’t ever appropriate. In fact, it’s unethical to intentionally (or inadvertently) confuse you audience. Technical communication, specifically, and professional writing, generally, may deal in situations where unclear messages can cost organizations time, money, and reputation (ethos). You need to match your prose style to your intended audience to have the most effective message possible. This course is supposed to help you build the choices possible.
Ch. 2 Sentence Patterns
Let’s review a few things from Kolln & Gray. Before that, go and re-read the chapter. I’ll wait.
Types of Verbs
From this chapter, we learn these categories of verbs:
- be verb patterns…look for am, is, are, was, were, and, of course, be.
- linking verbs…look for verbs that link the subject to a subject complement.
- intransitive verbs…these are action verbs and the sentence can be complete with a subject and intransitive verb. “No complements required” (p. 21).
- transitive verbs…these are also action verbs, but they ALL take a direct object.
Below are the seven basic sentence patterns (from p. 24):
- Pattern 1 (P1): Subject + Be + Adverbial
- Pattern 2 (P2): Subject + Be + Subject Complement
- Pattern 3 (P3): Subject + Linking Verb + Subject Complement
- Pattern 4 (P4): Subject + Intransitive Verb
- Pattern 5 (P5): Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object
- Pattern 6 (P6): Subject + Transitive Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object
- Pattern 7 (P7): Subject + Transitive Verb + Direct Object + Object Complement
The book isn’t too clear on this next point, but Commands (Declarative) and Questions (Interrogative) have other sentence patterns. If this were a linguistics class, we might explore those in detail. Because our focus is on writing, editing, and rhetorical effects, we won’t spend time on those other sentence patterns. Again, memorizing sentence patterns isn’t the goal of this course; instead, understanding the parts of speech and how to make appropriate prose choices is. For instance, wouldn’t the previous sentence flow better this way:
- Again, memorizing sentence patterns isn’t the goal of this course; instead, understanding the parts of speech and making appropriate prose choices is.
It might not be clear now, but the above revision is more concise, which is usually a goal for technical communication. After reading the next few chapters, you’ll understand the names of a variety of clauses, which will help you both write more effectively and explain why your editing decisions more thoroughly.
Knowing the structure of a sentence means you can change emphasis based on placement. This–considering emphasis in a sentence–is more important than memorizing names. Notice how writers can focus or emphasize readers’ attention through word placement. Pattern 2 has the subject complement at the end of a sentence and “puts greater emphasis on the adjective” (p. 20). In Pattern 6, we can “[shift] the indirect object to a position following the direct object” to emphasize (usually) the recipient of the action:
- Alison bought me a beer.
Subject [Alison] + Transitive Verb [bought] + Indirect Object [me] + Direct Object [a beer]
- Alison bought a beer for me.
Subject [Alison] + Transitive Verb [bought] + + Direct Object [a beer] + Indirect Object [me]
I know which I’d want to emphasize…Remember, the Indirect Object is usually (not always) a person, animal, or group and receives the Direct Object–“a beer” in the sentence above. The Direct Object is the goal of the verb–“bought” is the action in the sentence above. The subject is usually the one doing something to the direct object.
- Who or what is doing something?
- What was done to the beer?
The beer was bought.
- For whom was the beer bought?
The beer was bought for me.
HOMEWORK #1 is based on Exercise #4 (p. 21), #5 (p. 26), and #6 (p. 28). The questions aren’t identical, but, if you can do the ones in the book, you should have no trouble with the assignment, so finish (re-)reading Chapter #2 and get on over to Canvas. Once you start the homework, you’ll only have 30 min to complete it…Don’t expect to start reading at 10:55 pm.
Barrett’s Perfect English Grammar
Barrett’s Perfect English Grammar will be supplemental for this semester, but you’re required to read it, and the material will show up on quizzes and exams. You should notice some overlap between the two textbooks, but, if you find any contradictions between them, take note. Remember, think of grammar not as autochthonous rules but conventions, standardized practices.
Words to ponder…
- Likable or Likeable
- Movable or Moveable
- Lovable or Loveable
- The OED has a say…Likable, Movable, and Lovable
- O vs. 0
Barrett makes a nice attempt to make us feel better about our misspellings when he claims, “studies show that good spelling isn’t necessarily a sign of intelligence” (p. 41). While I agree with him, we all know how embarassing it is to mispell words or use the wrong spelling. Doing so effects our self worth, making those of us with self-depreciating values whale with lamint. Due yourself a favor and review those homophones (homonyms) on pp. 44-46. Your going to understand there impotence, and I hope I’ve peaked you’re interest.
I once wrote an e-mail to the happy hour crew explaining where we’d be congregating at the Flying Saucer (this is a bar…remember those things), and I gave the following directions:
- We’re in the back room of the Saucer. When you come in, go back to the kitchen and turn right passed the bathrooms…
Well, I never heard the end of it from one particular person (who may or may not be the President of the faculty). Most of the University loves it when English professors make mistakes, and they love to point them out. Beware of your audience…they can be brutal.
Barrett advises writers not to “use a thesaurus to find new words….because a thesaurus does not always indicate which words are appropriate for which contexts” (p. 18). Let’s consider a lesson that highlights this. Look back at September 15th’s discussion on Word Usage for more details on that.
Make sure you have Homework #1 on Canvas finished before 11:00 pm tonight–9/22. Keep up with the syllabus! Next week, we’ll cover Ch. 3 in Rhetorical Grammar and Ch. 6 in Perfect English Grammar. Review #1 is due next week, so submit that on Canvas before 11:00 pm on 9/29. Also, if you haven’t set a first-half-of-the-semester conference time with me, do so ASAP!!! If you all try to do this the week before the Midterm Exam, I might run out of time.