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Diction. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. Diction. Is at the heart of any discussion about style =word choice, figurative language, sound of sentences Above and beyond grammar, creates the tone of a text. Diction. Tone

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diction

Diction

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

diction2
Diction
  • Is at the heart of any discussion about style
  • =word choice, figurative language, sound of sentences
  • Above and beyond grammar, creates the tone of a text
diction3
Diction
  • Tone
    • The speaker’s attitude toward the subject matter or audience, as revealed by the choice of language and the rhythms of speech
    • E.g. sarcastic, matter-of-fact, cold, energetic, academic, humorous, etc.
diction4
Diction
  • Level of language:
    • Formal
      • characterized by a learned vocabulary and grammatically correct forms. Does not usually include colloquialisms
    • Informal
      • language closest to everyday conversation; may include colloquialisms and slang
diction5
Diction
  • Level of language:
    • Slang
      • Lively, colourful language that is often limited to certain groups (social, regional) and passes in and out of fashion
    • “Fine Writing”
      • Unnecessarily formal or pretentious diction
two part verbs
Two-Part Verbs
  • Simple verb in combination with another word or words
    • E.g. cool off, sit down, find out
  • Often form idiomatic expressions that are informal or colloquial in tone
  • Avoid or use sparingly in academic writing
figurative language
Figurative Language
  • Provides a writer with the opportunity to write imaginatively, while also testing the imagination of the reader
  • Helps readers visualize what is being written about
  • Enhances style by making texts more interesting
  • Sharpens meaning
imagery
Imagery
  • Creates pictures in the reader’s mind, and also suggests a number of imaginative associations
figure of speech
Figure of Speech
  • An example of figurative language that states something that is not literally true in order to create an effect
  • Some common figures of speech are:
simile
Simile
  • A comparison using “like” or “as.” The similarity between two objects is made explicit; there is no pretence of absolute identity.
  • Example:
    • The river is like a snake winding across the plain.
metaphor
Metaphor
  • An assertion that two things in some way similar are identical
  • Example:
    • The river is a snake winding across the plain.
    • The river snakes its way across the plain.
    • The river winds snakily across the plain.
irony
Irony
  • Recognition of the difference between real and apparent meaning
  • There are many different types of irony, but the most common in academic writing is:
verbal irony
Verbal Irony
  • The contrast is between the literal meaning of what is said and what is meant; the meaning of the words used is the opposite of their sense.
  • Satire (and its cousin sarcasm) is a form of verbal irony.
figurative language gone wrong
Figurative Language Gone Wrong
  • Inappropriate Metaphors
    • Create images that don’t make sense or are inappropriate for your audience
  • Overextended Metaphors
    • Are too long, and the metaphor takes control; in other words, the point you want to make is lost
figurative language gone wrong15
Figurative Language Gone Wrong
  • Dead Metaphors & Clichés
    • Have little force and tend to be ineffective
  • Mixed Metaphors
    • Abruptly switch from one comparison to another without intending to
concrete and abstract diction
Concrete and Abstract Diction
  • Concrete words
    • Denote tangible things capable of being apprehended by the physical senses
  • Abstract words
    • Denote intangible things like ideas or qualities
concrete and abstract diction17
Concrete and Abstract Diction
  • You need a combination of both, but be sure to ground your writing in the concrete (use specific examples to illustrate your points)
  • Readers remember the concrete – it illustrates and lends meaning to the abstract
  • The more specific (i.e. concrete) your writing is, the clearer and more effective it will be
weak generalizations
Weak Generalizations
  • AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!
  • Use examples and always be specific
  • Employ:
    • Figurative language
    • Imagery
    • Research sources

as necessitated by the assignment

denotation and connotation
Denotation and Connotation
  • Denotation
    • What a word means (dictionary definition)
    • What a word signifies without emotional associations, judgements, or opinions
  • Connotation
    • What a word suggests
    • Usually determined through context
denotation and connotation20
Denotation and Connotation
  • When choosing words, pay attention to connotative meanings that you may not intend
  • Example:
    • Brash denotes confidence, but has negative connotations
    • Self-assured also denotes confidence, but it carries more positive connotations
euphemism
Euphemism
  • An inoffensive or positive word or phrase used to avoid a harsh, unpleasant, or distasteful reality
  • A tactful word or phrase which avoids directly mentioning a painful reality
    • (from William Lutz, “The World of Doublespeak”
  • Only the first definition constitutes “doublespeak”
    • doublespeak is misleading or deceiving
jargon
Jargon
  • The specialized language of a trade, profession, or similar group
  • Is doublespeak if it is used to make the simple seem complex, “used not to express but to impress” (Lutz)
bureaucratese
Bureaucratese
  • A method of piling on words to overwhelm the audience
  • it sounds good but really makes no sense
inflated language
Inflated Language
  • Remember “Fine Writing”?
  • Political correctness can fall into this category
  • Often also constitutes a kind of euphamism
wrong word
Wrong Word
  • Incorrect word choice is a common student error
  • If you aren’t sure what word to use, consult your dictionary
wordiness redundancy
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Clear the deadwood
  • Strive for clarity and precision
  • As you proofread and revise a text, delete unnecessary words but keep or add exact ones.
wordiness redundancy27
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Wordy first draft:
    • In the early part of the month of February there was a really mean blizzard with very high winds that was moving threateningly toward Halifax.
  •  First revision:
    • In the early part of the month of February there was a really mean blizzard with very high winds that was moving threateningly toward Halifax.
wordiness redundancy28
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Second revision:
    • In early February a (really mean) vicious blizzard with (very high) 150-kilometer-per-hour winds was (moving threateningly toward) threatening Halifax.
  • Finished copy:
    • In early February a vicious blizzard with 150-kilometer-per-hour winds was threatening Halifax.
wordiness redundancy29
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Compare:
    • In the early part of the month of February there was a really mean blizzard with very high winds that was moving threateningly toward Halifax.
    • In early February a vicious blizzard with 150-kilometer-per-hour winds was threatening Halifax.
wordiness redundancy30
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Make every word count
  • Omit words or phrases that add nothing to your meaning
  • Guidelines for omitting wordiness:
wordiness redundancy31
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Avoid tautology (the use of different words to say the same thing)
    • Wordy:
      • Commuters going back and forth to work or school formed carpools.
    • Concise:
      • Commuters formed carpools.
wordiness redundancy32
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • The useless words in brackets below serve only to echo meaning
  • Avoid such wordiness in your own writing:
    • yellow [in colour]
    • circular [in shape]
    • at 9:45 pm [that night]
    • return [back]
    • [basic] essentials
    • bitter[-tasting] drink
    • but [though]
wordiness redundancy33
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Do not use many words when a few will express the idea well
  • Wordy:
    • In the event that the evaluation system is changed, expect complaints on the part of employees.
  • Concise:
    • If the evaluation system is changed, expect complaints from employees. (2 words take the place of 8)
wordiness redundancy34
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Wordy:
    • As far as sexism is concerned, it seems to me that a woman can be as guilty of sexism as a man.
  • Concise:
    • A woman can be as guilty of sexism as a man. (11 useless words deleted)
wordiness redundancy35
Wordiness & Redundancy
  • Beware ready-made phrases:
    • at this point in time→now
    • bring to a conclusion→conclude
    • during the same time that→while
    • in a great many instances→often
    • on account of the fact that→because
    • situated in the vicinity of→near
    • was of the opinion that→believed
    • by means of →by
    • due to the fact that →because
passive voice
Passive Voice
  • Passive voice is wordy.
  • Active voice is direct.
  • Example:
    • Be assured that action will be taken.
    • I assure you that I will act.
  • Passive voice often leaves the actor of the verb out of the construction (as in the example above).
awkward repetition
Awkward Repetition
  • Avoid careless or needless repetition of a word or phrase
  • Faulty:
    • This interesting instructor knows how to make an uninteresting subject interesting. 
  • Revised:
    • This instructor knows how to make a dull subject interesting.
awkward repetition38
Awkward Repetition
  • Awkward:
    • We had problems solving these problems.
  • Revised:
    • We had a hard time solving these problems.
  • Awkward:
    • His boss is not like her boss. Her boss is more reliable than his boss.
  • Revised:
    • Their bosses are different. Hers is more reliable than his.
awkward repetition39
Awkward Repetition
  • Avoid carelessly repeating a root or word base.
  • Awkward:
    • I got the impression that his expression of sympathy was insincere.
  • Revised:
    • I felt that his expression of sympathy was insincere.
awkward repetition40
Awkward Repetition
  • Eliminate careless rhymes and other distracting repetition of sounds.
  • Awkward:
    • The use of catalytic converters is just one contribution to the solution of the problem of air pollution.
  • Revised:
    • The use of catalytic converters is just one way to help reduce air pollution.
politics and the english language by george orwell
Politics and the English Language (by George Orwell)
  • Written in 1946, yet his complaints about Modern English still relevant
  • The errors and shortcuts that he points out are those we have just discussed
politics and the english language
Politics and the English Language
  • Questions writers should ask themselves:
    • What am I trying to say?
    • What words will express it?
    • What image or idiom will make it clearer?
    • Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
    • Could I put it more shortly?
    • Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
politics and the english language43
Politics and the English Language
  • Orwell wants us to ground our writing in the concrete rather than in the abstract.
  • Be specific, not vague.
  • Choose rather than simply accept the language that you use – come up with your own metaphors and turns of phrase rather than using ready-mades.
politics and the english language44
Politics and the English Language
  • Rules writers should follow:
    • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
politics and the english language45
Politics and the English Language
  • (Rules cont’d)
    • Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
    • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
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