unit 10 straight a illiteracy james p degnan n.
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Unit 10 Straight-A Illiteracy James P. Degnan. The Author ’ s Message. Make you writing clean , clear and concise by avoiding high-sounding, elevated language. Criteria of Good Writing. Accuracy Brevity Clarity. Quotations on conciseness .

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the author s message
The Author’s Message
  • Make you writing clean, clear and concise by avoiding high-sounding, elevated language.
criteria of good writing
Criteria of Good Writing
  • Accuracy
  • Brevity
  • Clarity
quotations on conciseness
Quotations on conciseness
  • I write as I walk because I want to get somewhere, and I write as straight as I can because that is the best way to get there.

-- H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

  • literary output vast and extremely varied
  • perhaps best remembered for his scientific romances, among the

earliest products of the new genre of science fiction. (e.g. The

Time Machine, The First Men in the Moon. A Modern Utopia )

slide5

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack

the time to make it shorter. – Pascal (Provincial Letters (1657)

Blaise Pascal (1623-62)

  • French mathematician, physicist, and moralist
  • as gifted in science as in letters
  • literary fame resting on two works, Provincial Letters (1656-7) (Les Provinciales )
slide6

In order to speak short on any subject, think long.

  • Brackenbridge (Modern Chivalry,1792)

Hugh Henry Brackenbridge (1748-1816)

  • American novelist, poet, lawyer
  • Modern Chivalry (1792, satirical novel, published in

installment from 1792-1815, giving a good description

of men and manners during the early days of the

American republic and manifesting Brackenbridge

allegiance to the robust tradition of the English novel

in Smollett and Fielding)

slide7

“If I’d had more time, I’d have written a shorter book.”

  • Mark Twain
  • The more you say, the less people remember. The

fewer the words, the greater the profit.

  • Fenelon (1651-1725)
  • (French theologian and educator)
the author s message1
The Author’s Message
  • Make you writing clean, clear and concise by avoiding high-sounding, elevated language.
professional views of good style
Professional Views of Good Style
  • Politics and the English Language

-- George Orwell

specimens of bad writing
Specimens of bad writing
  • I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.

– Professor Harold Laski

(Essay in Freedom of Expression)

specimens of bad writing1
Specimens of bad writing
  • If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion’s roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream– as gentle as any sucking dove. … -- Letter in Tribune
1 avoid hackneyed metaphors
1. Avoid hackneyed metaphors
  • as busy as a bee
  • by leaps and bounds
  • as clear as crystal
  • face the music
  • play with fire
  • as cool as a cucumber

… etc.

2 avoid clich s
2. Avoid clichés
  • last but not least
  • lucky dog,
  • no pain; no gain
  • a piece of cake
  • from the bottom of my heart
  • from every walk of life
  • the other side of the coin
  • few and far between … etc.
3 avoid high sounding words
3. Avoid high-sounding words
  • Be careful about words that sound grand but have vague meanings.
  • Avoid elevated language if you can say the same thing clearly and plainly without it.

- endeavor (attempt, try)

- repercussions (results / effects)

- transmit (send)

- materialize ( happen, occur)

- terminate (end) …etc.

4 be careful when using jargons
4. Be careful when using jargons.
  • prior to (before)
  • as per (according to)
  • to facilitate the availability of funds ( to help get money )
5 guard against lazy wordiness
5. Guard against lazy wordiness
  • It is believed by a number of persons in this country that the young people of today do not assume as much responsibility toward society as it might be hoped that they would.(33 words)
  • Today many believe that our young people assume too little responsibility toward society. (13 words)
compare the following pairs of expressions
Compare the following pairs of expressions

SIMPLE

ARCHAIC

  • This is to acknowledge receipt
  • of your letter
  • Thank you for your letter…
  • We are in receipt of your cheque

for …

  • We received your cheque for …
  • We are crediting your account
  • as per instruction
  • As you instructed, we are

crediting…(or: According to

your wishes, we…

  • You will hear from us

at an early date

  • I will write you soon about …
  • Attached hereto is the agreement
  • for your signature.
  • Enclosed is the agreement for…(or: Please find enclosed the agreement …)
archaic
ARCHAIC

SIMPLE

  • I hope you will give an

extension.

  • I beg your indulgence in this matter.
  • Due to the fact that …
  • Because….
  • I am taking the liberty of

sending you…

  • I am sending you …
  • The writer wishes to acknowledge

receipt of the book

  • Thank you for sending me
  • the book.
  • We beg to acknowledge receipt

of your favour

  • Thank your for your letter

of …

language points
Language points

- to fuss and bother about sth.

- to make a fuss of sb.:to pay a lot of attention to sb. e.g.

  • They like to be flattered and made a fuss of. (喜欢受人呵护)

- to fuss over sb./sth.: to pay too much attention or worry about them too much e.g.

  • She was inclined to fuss over her health.
  • A fussy person is one who makes a lot of ado about unimportant

things.

overpopulate to have too large a population text their number is very large
overpopulate: to have too large a population; (text) their number is very large.

plight:difficult situation, full of problems

  • e.g.
  • the plight of the handicapped
  • The children were in a sorry plight; tired, lost, and hungry.

as often as not: in roughly half the instances 多半/往往

at least half the time; frequently

interrogate question sb closely thoroughly formally
interrogate: question sb. closely, thoroughly, formally

pry:try to find out about sb. else’ private affairs

  • e.g.
  • I’m not trying to pry.
  • Don’t go prying into my affairs.

probe: ask questions; make inquiries into; try to find out

  • e.g.
  • to probe for information
  • to probe the mysteries of the universe

exogenous:growing or originating from outside

the periodic sentence
The periodic sentence
  • when most people are working harder for less; when others cannot work at all; when the cost of health care devastates families and threatens to bankrupt many of our enterprises, great and small; when fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead—we have not made change our friend. —Clinton
co linearity in lines
co-linearity: in lines

be contingent upon: depend upon/be decided by

co efficient: (math)系数 e.g. 4x

decode: to decode a telegram/a message:

to change it into ordinary language

fellowship: money given to postgraduate students to allow

them to continue their studies at an advanced level

gibberish: unintelligible or meaningless speech, nonsense. i.e.

containing many obscure, pretentious, or technical words;

meaningless or unintelligible

slide25

providential: (formal) lucky because it happens at the right time, but without being planned (天缘巧合的、适时的)- A providential wind carried the raft to the shore.

-

providence n.

- to trust in divine providence相信上帝

protect/guard/shelter/screen from/against:

eg.

  • May God protect you from harm .
  • You can’t protect him from blame in the accident.
  • It is hopeless trying to protect your child from the harmful effects of

TV until the material improves.

  • to protect from sudden attacks
afflict pain illness sorrow sb means to affect them and make them suffer eg
afflict: pain/illness/sorrow ~ sb. means to affect them and makethem suffer eg.
  • sb. be afflicted with blindness;
  • (text) affliction of the Bright disease

entrepreneur: a person who undertakes an enterprise or

business with the chance of profit of loss

filter: a porous device for removing impurities or solid particles

from a liquid of gas passed through it

slide27
inexorable: a. relentless b. (of a person or attribute) that cannot be persuaded by request or entreaty eg.
  • to wage an ~ struggle against fascism 对…坚决的斗争
  • an ~ law 不可抗拒的法律
  • History is ~. 历史是无情的。

grapple with: a. to fight/struggle with sb. usu. with one’s hands

b. to struggle with/deal with (a difficulty)

eg.

  • to grapple with a thief/the enemy
  • It will take a brave politician to grapple with the inequalities

in the tax laws.

bulge with be full of eg
bulge with: be full ofeg.
  • His stomach bulged out. 他大腹便便。
  • His pockets were bulging with money. 他口袋里的钱鼓鼓囊囊。

exile:流放

eg.

  • In some periods of history, a government could punish a citizen by

exiling him. (forcing him to leave the homeland)

  • self-exiled to Paris/exiled themselves to Paris
banish forcible removal eg
banish: forcible removaleg.
  • The judge ordered the suspect banished from the courtroom. 带下去

/押下去

  • TV commercials that promise their products can banish washday

drudgery.

deport: official sending away of someone who is not a citizen

驱逐出境

e.g.

  • When a government deports a foreigner, he is sent out of the

country because he has committed a crime or has no official

permission to stay.

slide30
expatriate: it refers to the stripping of citizenship from sb. either by his own choice or by the nation’s choice
  • expatriate oneself移居国外,放弃原国籍

extradite:引渡

eject: a. to push, send sth. out, usu. with force

eg.

  • The machine ejected a handful of cigarettes.

b. to eject sb. from a place, to force him to leave

eg.

  • We reserve the right to eject away objectionable person.
inaccessible a difficult impossible to reach eg
inaccessible: a. difficult/impossible to reach eg

b. unable to understand/appreciate

eg.

  • the most inaccessible part of the jungle
  • The music of Bartok is considered inaccessible by many people.

cursory:

eg. a cursory glance/examination; that is, a brief one, not pay

attention to details

bear out: to support (sb. or the truth of what sb. says)

eg

  • The prisoner’s story was borne out by his wife
  • If I tell the judge that I wasn’t there, will you bear me out?
bear up a remain strong brave eg
bear up: a. remain strong/braveeg.
  • Alice bore up well under the news of her husband’s death.

b. to help sb. to continue living in a time of trouble

eg.

  • How could I have lived through Mother’s illness without you to
  • bear me up.

stagnant:business/society/economy stagnant 社会/经济/生意惨淡

secluded: quiet, private, undisturbed

  • secluded beaches/corner of the garden 幽静的
motionless not moving at all
motionless: not moving at all

come through:

  • to sit motionless; queues of motionless cars
  • A feeling of sadness comes through his music. (can be seen or felt)
  • All my family came through the war. (survive the danger)

sustain:

  • They do not have enough money to sustain a strike.
  • They had nothing to sustain them all day except two cups of coffee.
  • It is his belief in God that sustains him.
catch on not formal to become popular
catch on: (not formal) to become popular
  • I don’t think this strange new fashion will catch on.
  • Would you mind repeating that? I didn’t quite catch on.
  • (understand what one said)

catch out: (not formal)

  • The examiners will try to catch you out, so have all your answers

prepared. (to discover one unable to answer) 难倒你

  • I’m sure the prisoner is not telling the truth; talk to him and see if

you can catch him out. (找他的破绽)