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  1. #11
    Gary Kessler

    Re: Scary!

    Oh, thanks, Claire. I always thought it was from a Mr. Clean commercial--you know, the one where the housewife comes home and finds the dog has left a present on the carpet again.

  2. #12
    Purana Purdy

    Re: Scary!

    >>When you break down the sentence and realize it could easily be said more elegantly, more effectively, more simply, and more specifically -- then you have bad writing<<

    Are you saying that writing elegantly for a welding manual is a good thing? Come on, Gran. You say that you write for children.I KNOW that you know that good, effective writing takes the reader into consideration during the composition process.

    What is effective for a readership of BA college graduates may not be effective for AA degree community college welders or plumbers.

    I'm not a fan of the cited writing style, but I will not go so far to call the writing bad. If an English department were to tell me that I had to teach from a book full of that style of discourse, I'd throw the book out the window. I have a very deep dislike for that style of writing.

    My point is that the cited style of writing has a purpose and a place. Do I like reading that style of writing? No.

    Would I recommend it to certain people? Yes, I know some people who like to read and to produce that style of discourse.They probably aren't among the readership of this forum, and they certainly aren't family members or close friends.

  3. #13

    Re: Scary!

    I think spare, clear, precise prose can be elegant. By elegant here, I mean the definition of elegant as "beautiful of form" -- not ornate or elitist or cluttered or filled with big words or whatever definition you may have thought I meant that would have removed elegance from being effective in manuals, children's books, or most anywhere else. There is no reason a welding manual cannot be elegant and still be functional and meet the needs of the readership. It doesn't have to be clunky just to be functional. After all, I sincerely doubt welding manuals sound like welders. I knew a welder quite well once and if the manual sounded like that particular welder, it would have to read: "First, take the f**ing pipe and then find the f**ing blowtorch which is probably not where it f**ing belongs because you probably have a dumb*** helper who is your sister's kid and he probably left the f**ing thing in the john again."

    I still feel there is a bottom line for bad. And when push comes to shove, most academics I have come into contact agree that the overinflated prose sampled on that website is bad...when polled, similar writing was considered "bad" within its own community.

    Now, of course, I have to launch into a "story." When I was in college (obviously not recently) getting my Journalism degree, I worked for a professor who was building a bibliography on a specific subject (Oral Interpretation of Literature). As an assistant I had to read a lot of prose like that quoted at the website linked to above. I asked the professor about it (actually, I asked him if he knew what the heck these people were saying). He told me that sometimes it took a while but, yes, he could figure it out. He said it could be like decyphering code sometimes. He also said it was bad writing but that it was prevalent in the field.

    I wondered if the department that produced writing like this (the English department) would consider it bad writing -- so I gathered examples and polled the professors. Every single one of them (I was stubborn...and young and working for a respected professor in a related field). The whole English department at a major US university -- including some folks who were not technically professors. Now, I made sure I was not using examples written by the specific professor being queried, but every single one of them identified the stuff as bad writing. Though, many added remarks like: "Though I've written stuff nearly that bad -- it's just expected of you."

    They explained that they needed to write and be published in these kinds of journals. They felt this kind of writing was what was required/expected to do that. They also agreed that this kind of writing was bad/and could have been written better while imparting the same information.

    Just because the writers MAY feel they are in a catch-22 didn't make it good writing. I really am not flexible about it since I've given effort (at one time) toward investigating the reasons for it. I think some of the motives attributed to the writers in the article weren't fair. Most of the professors I asked felt it was expect of them -- not that they needed to one up anyone.

    But as to it being good writing, we might just have to agree to disagree on this one.


  4. #14
    Purana Purdy

    A Matter of Preference

    >>They explained that they needed to write and be published in these kinds of journals. They felt this kind of writing was what was required/expected to do that. They also agreed that this kind of writing was bad/and could have been written better while imparting the same information.<<

    Hmmm... I don't think anyone I know who publishes scholarly treatises would say that she writes that way because it is expected of her. Not all scholarly discourse employs extended subordination like that.

    My belief is that some write that way with the intention of excluding those who either cannot read it or who have no patience for it. It's elitism at its worst, but it's one fact of life.

    I dislike heroic verse but won't say that it's bad.

    Gran, I'm not sure that you and I are really in disagreement at all.

  5. #15
    The Late Mitchell Warren

    Re: A Matter of Preference

    Is that website the literary equivalent of Fox's "Secrets Of Magic Revealed?"

    Did I just hear a thousand different authors utter in unison, "Damn! They figured it out"?

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