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Archive for October, 2011

I visited Alyse and Amanda’s blog page.  We all agreed that Strunk and Whites book can serve us best as a quick reference and Williams book would serve as guide to revising our paper.  I found Amanda’s thoughts to be the same as a the rest of the class but her points were original with the content she used to explain her thoughts.  For example the majority of us discussed using (s) properly where she talked about the use of “larger words” to sound more educated.  I found that thought to be true.  I occasionally use words that I might not necessarily know the meaning of.  It sounds right at the time so I might use it then while I am editing I might take the word out.  As Williams put it, “there is a common word for almost every fancy word borrowed (118 Clarity and Grace).  Before this set of explanations Williams encourages the use of more simple words, it cuts down on unnecessary words and allows for sharper and more direct sentence.  Alyse touches on this subject in a similar way as I.  We both talked about the use of the possessive (s) she was a bit more wordy in her explanation I discussed it in about two sentences.  I believe I talked about the (s) as a comment on our class page but remember stating the same as Alyse “were taught wrong or did we miss this lesson”.

I like Amanda’s statement, “Shrunk and White are a watered down version of Williams”.  I never thought about stating it this way.  The more I think about her statement it rings true.  Looking at the way Shrunk & White visit topics is just that, a topic and an explanation.  Williams gives the topic, example and then an explanation as to how we arrive at that example for clarity.   Amanda also makes a statement that stuck out.  She says, “We all find Williams book more useful, it’s not cookie cutter”.  To describe Williams as “not cookie cutter” I did not think of that but the point is dead on.  He gives you more of an option not a hard  rule.

Then Kalman comes to mind. I do not understand how she can love Shrunk and White to the point of illustrating them. Reading the difference between all of these women leads me to understand how Kalman came to her thoughts.  Everyone opinion is just that an opinion.  We may not like Shrunk and WHite book but its made major impression on some people lives enough to illustrate them.  Who knows someone may feel that way about Williams and illustrate him.  Our next assignment comes to mind, a different way of putting a familiar topic.

 

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˜a reflection

Reflecting back on what I wrote for my first prompt concerning Strunk and White’s Elements of Style I noticed some similarities and differences between them and Joseph Williams’  book Style: Toward Clarity and Grace .   The main difference I noticed was Williams placed Usage, Style and Grammar  at the end of his book whereas  Strunk and White opened their book with this topic.  I would assume that Strunk and White wants us to think about grammar first and clarity second but  Williams would prefer for us to be clear first.  I’m sure it is a matter of preference and “style”.  I find it easier to get my ideas on paper first then go back follow the “rules of the game”. Another difference is the table of contents in Strunk and Whites book for quick referencing  Williams has an index but I would not consider that a quick reference guide.

Two topics I touched on in my previous blog from Strunk and White were “injecting opinion” and “overwriting”.  These topics were discussed by Williams also with more detail.  I now have a firm grasp on how to use my opinion without forcing it onto someone.  I also realized, as I write I pick up on the” needless words or over writing”. Williams broke down the different types of overwriting topics.  One of the those topics being redundancy.  The example he used, “During that period of time, the mucous membrane area became pink in color and shiny in appearance” he changed it to, During that time, the mucous membrane became pink in color” (117).  Yes the sentence is shorter but the clarity flow is better.

      Joseph Williams’ book Style: Toward Clarity and Grace discusses some of  the elements that I wrote about in my previous blog about Strunk and White.   The advice offered by Williams is more useful and updated where as Strunk and White was more of a don’t do this do that type of book without an up to date explanation.  If I need a quick refresher on style or how to do use a certain word then I would probably use Strunk and White over Williams.  In the draft part of my essay then use Williams for “clarity and grace”.   Strunk and Whites book is easy to flip and find what you are looking for.  Whereas  with Williams you have to spend time digesting the material before you can apply what you read.  For example the chapter on Concision, he is describing what you need to do to cut your sentence down with unnecessary words.  I was a little unclear as to how he was cutting down whole paragraphs into a one to two sentences.  In particular he broke down a whole paragraph on foreign policy to just one sentence.  Williams states,”In the longer version, the writer  matches agents to subjects and verbs. But she uses ten words where one would have served”. (115 Clarity and Grace)

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African-American Studies

I chose a passage from the college of African American Studies for revision.  I chose to switch the beginning of sentence to improve cohesion and place the emphasis on the department of African Studies. Williams states,  “Subject-complement switching. Sometimes, we simply switch the subject and complement” (55)  This allows for better cohesion of the sentence.  In the next sentence I took out the unnecessary words. In Williams terms I changed the nominalizations to connect two sentences.  Williams states, “When you find consecutive nominalizations, turn the first one into a verb. Then either leave the second or turn it into a verb in a clause beginning with how or why” (31).  In the last sentence I noticed that African-American Studies was repeated in each phrase.  For a better flow in keeping the main topics visible  I took out two of the “African-American Studies”.  Williams states, “Get rid of the metadiscourse, make the central character-programs- the topic, and get a substantially more compelling claim”(53).  I hope my version is some what clear.  I am sure there are other ways to write this passage, however this is what I felt was clear to me!

(my version)

A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.)  are two of the undergraduate degree programs  you can choose within  the Department of African Studies. To earn a BA degree one  year of foreign language is required, however a foreign language is not required for a BS degree.    In the college of African American Studies you can earn a certificate as a graduate or an undergraduate student or a minor within the BS and BA program.

(emu version)

“The Department of African-American Studies offers two undergraduate degree tracks: a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). One year of a foreign language is required for the B.A. degree, but the B.S. degree does not have a foreign language requirement.  The department also offers a minor in African-American Studies, a graduate certificate in African American Studies and an undergraduate certificate in African Studies” (EMU Catalog).

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I couldn’t help but think about my writing style while reading William Strunk and E.B. White Elements of Style Manual.  They mentioned to “not overwriting”(72). Often time when I am trying to get a point across I repeat what I said just in a different manner or I tend to give too much information at one time.  A helpful point made was to continually go back and reread what you have written or typed and get rid of unnecessary words and in some cases paragraphs (72).  As often as I do this I still seem to add more words than I take out.

Another helpful tip “not to inject opinion” (79).  All to often when we write I feel or I think instead just stating the general facts.   Strunk and White suggest we all have feelings on almost everything……but to air ones views at an improper time may be in bad taste” (80).   Recently I wrote a paper and I didn’t realize that I had placed some personal thought in the paper.  A classmate who read my paper pointed it out to and gave suggestions on how to remove personal thought.  Usually when writing I can distinguish the two but as S and W say it is difficult to.

The section on misused words seemed to be a bit outdated.  One particular element that bother me was nouns used as verbs, some of this is common sense, the example “the candidate hosted a dinner party for fifty of her workers” I find nothing wrong with stating like this. But S & W says we should say “the gave a dinner party for fifty of her workers” (54).  Using gave instead of hosted makes the sentence a bit formal.    I also found some of the other words listed to be outdated.  When you are trying to make a point stand out you use stronger words such as importantly and in regards to.  They suggest we reword sentences that use the word importantly but no reason as to why we should avoid using it.  apparently we need to take the”s” off of regards (49).  Then the sentence structure is considered a fragment if we leaves off the “s”.  We should take some of these rules with a grain of salt.

I enjoyed reading this manual for a few reasons being refreshed on how to write and helpful hints on how to better my writings.  More importantly how to develop my own style.  S & W suggestion for that is to let it come naturally.  Dont try too hard, “achieve style by affecting none–that is, place yourself in the background”.  In doing this my natural ability will come thru (70).   I plan to try this during the  rewrite process of one of our projects.

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The second time around is supposed to be a charm, well maybe not in peer reviews.  Having gone through this process twice I am reluctant to do it a third time.  I received some great feed back again but from just one person again.  Our group consisted of three people but to date I have only received one set of comments.  So again I am basing my edit comments off of one person’s thoughts.  I’m sure the other group member will contribute at the ninth hour, but who has time to wait for that.  The random chosen group members do not appeal to me.  I would much rather choose my own group but in an online class I guess that is hard to do.  However, I did like the chart survey that was a very neat idea.

I received some of the same comments which tell me I need to rethink how I write. I had way too many fragment sentences and incomplete thoughts.   Then again this paper was much harder to write so I guess it depends on the subject I am writing on.  Also somehow I forgot to cite my sources.  I almost never write without citing and to do
it consistently throughout the paper.  I’m blaming the Theraflu I was drinking the week I wrote this paper.

I was given this great line of advice; I was simply asked “So what”.   For example, Doritos commercial fit the style of a paradox, (so what). Well paradox is simply defined as self-contradictory, (so what). As you can see continually asking yourself “so what” forces you to go deeper into a concept and staying on track at the same time.

I don’t feel this time around I helped my group member nearly as much as she helped me.  I feel this way because of the “so what” comment! The comments I made were mostly grammar and some cite references were missing.  But based on the information she gave me I understand why her draft to me seemed flawless.  A few paragraphs were a bit chunky but with a paper like this it was kind of difficult to stay away from the large paragraphs.  Similar comments were made on my other group members paper.

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