[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: the elements of style

When you said:
<...I understood what the writer of the first [quoted]
paragraph is saying. You have to understand Osteology, which is one of the
reasons I think this list is needed. You have to describe the skeletal
elements in order to understand how they function and how they are formed.>
in your prior discussion I saw two ways to understand it.
First, you might be saying that if the reader already understood Osteology,
as you do, the
post being critiqued would be easier to comprehend.  Second, you might be
saying that the writer of the original post should have provided more
context, more description in order to increase clarity to the reader.  In
Twain's words, '... you perceive what he is intending to say, but you also
perceive that he doesn't say it.'
I let 'which is one of the reasons I think this list is needed' be the
tiebreaker, assuming you were pointing out the importance of providing more
information essential to his point.  But when you say, 'This may be one of
the reasons for there to be books/dictionary's to look
at? To find words that one doesn't understand?' I guess I was wrong.
Sounds like we need a recount.

Your point that a book in hand is better than flipping screens is well
taken.  Still, most libraries are not large enough nor rich enough nor
knowledgeable enough to have many specialized books on a given topic.  (Many
do have assemblages of intriguing material because of the interests of
donors.  My local library has a copy of the defense published by the society
of merchants who were almost accused of treason for considering secession
during the War of 1812 and a history including substantial quotes from
journals by soldiers accompanying Rochambeau.  That's the French general who
marched through Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.  The journals show
that when he arrived in the town in which I live, women dressed in their
finest apparel, came to the encampment, danced fetchingly, and offered money
to the officers for men to replace their own who had died during the
conflict.  Ok, yes, I like to browse, too.)
And if you think loaning of specimens is sometimes equivalent to
disappearance, try inter-library loan, assuming the book you've had to
identify specifically is somewhere in the system.
The Internet is a wondrous grab-bag because, whatever your interest, someone
else has shared it and set up a website.  Or a forum.  The problem is that
some information has the disadvantage of being false, or at least not quite
true.  A very polite individual here pointed out to me that I was misreading
a discussion of the degree to which Newton was refuted by Einstein.  The
author of the discussion was very qualified, but had been so nuanced that
his conclusions were ambiguous.

So, good style assures that the reader is conscious of the facts needed to
follow the argument and correctly understands the conclusion.  That's the
writer's job, not the reader's homework assignment.  Poetry, to my mind the
highest form of style, intentionally creates a way of thinking and feeling,
making the reader a different person for a period of time.  How that's done
is worth study.
No offense intended by my comments either; work on style doesn't stop.  Why,
there are some who would assert that I'm sometimes digressive, slow to get
to the point.  Nah!