Der Amerikanische Urlauber

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

God Save the Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II Posted by Hello

After speaking the language for 18 years, and learning how to write in it for probably 14 or 15 of those, it's kind of amazing how much you can still continue to learn. If you look at it the wrong way, you could throw your arms up in frustration, say "I'll never get it right!" and quit trying. But nobody is the perfect writer, and like any skill, it takes practice to improve. As you'll see shortly, no one is safe from crafting a confusing sentence...

Learning how to compose a good sentence is harder than it looks. Too many people try to get around complexity by writing sentences that read like "See Spot run. Spot runs fast." A well crafted, complex, orderly sentence needs to flow, while at the same time maintaining the clarity and coherence of a simple sentence. I've come across sentences that can run nearly as long as a paragraph in itself.

Williams offers some good examples in his book, Style, Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, which I have previously mentioned. In lesson eight he writes about shape of the sentence, including the proper use of modifiers and clauses. It seems that the good people ove at The Herald Sun, a British newspaper, could use to read Williams' book.

What follows is an example of bad sentence coordination in a complex sentence, and also lends itself to a bit of comedy (or horrible prophecy... in which case I hope Her Majesty was duly informed...)

Royal bride to be Camilla Parker Bowles will officially become British queen after fiancé prince Charles takes the throne…Parker Bowles is to marry Prince Charles , who will take the throne once his mother Queen Elizabeth dies, on April 8th…

While not a dangling modifier, it is closely related to the confusion that results when one writes without regard for how it will be taken. It's SUPPOSED to say "on April 8th Camilla Parker Bowles is to marry Prince Charles, who will take the throne once his mother, Queen Elizabeth, dies."Or something like that.

Nevertheless, this just proves there are people in all professions, of all levels of intellgience, and of all ages who exemplify the need to continue to refine our writing.

That, or those guys at The Herald Sun might be trying to give Nostradamus a run for his money...


  • At 10:20 PM, April 05, 2005, Blogger Psi-Lord said…

    Ah, so now I know where that paragraph came from! I laughed my head off with it, hehehe.

    Writing is indeed an art, and if there's something I'll probably never get used to is the fact that most people around here I know, especially teenagers, seem to be getting worse and worse at it, especially because of the internet. =Þ As a Portuguese teacher of mine used to say, it's a pity that the paper (or the cyberpaper, for that matter) accepts anything...

  • At 4:40 AM, April 12, 2005, Anonymous Kim said…

    I feel so sad whenever I see the kids these days write Dutch. All they seem to know is the so-called MSN language. BRB, WB, w8. And then when they do write a full text, it is just full with grammar mistakes. I remember in school they used to make a huge effort out of spelling. I wonder what happends these days. They teach in Microsoft word and kids just use the spelling and grammar check?

    But the part you posted is REALLY hilarious!


Post a Comment

<< Home