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Syntax

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  1. Syntax The grammatical structure of sentences

  2. Review of diction • “HOME is where the heart is.” • Is the word elevated, neutral, or informal? • Is the word concrete or abstract? • What is the denotation of “home?” • What is the connotation of “home?” • Is “home” euphonic or cacophonic?

  3. Review of diction, cont. • Ms. Belmonte seems CRANKY today. • Is the word elevated, neutral, or informal? • Is the word concrete or abstract? • What is the denotation of “cranky?” • What is the connotation of “cranky?” • Is “cranky” euphonic or cacophonic?

  4. What is syntax? • Syntax is the deliberate way an author structures his sentences to make a particular point. • Why study it? • Because syntax, like diction, contributes to meaning and effect on the reader.

  5. Elements of syntax: sentence length • STACCATO: 1-2 words, very abrupt • Example: “Get stewed. Books are a load of crap.” --Philip Larkin • TELEGRAPHIC: shorter than 5 words • Example: “Three whole quarts. Now they ain’t none.Not a drop.” --Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye • SHORT: 5-10 words • Example: “Girls. You never know what they're going to think.” –J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye • Bonus Question: What kind of sentence is “Girls”? Answer: staccato

  6. Elements of syntax: sentence length • MEDIUM: 15-20 words • Example: “How Mama and Daddy know me sixteen years and hate me, how a stranger meet me and love me.” --Sapphire, Push • LONG: 30 or more words • Example: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." --Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

  7. Practice: what kinds of sentences are these? • "Last week we went to the museum. A whole whale is hanging from the ceiling. Bigger than big! OK, have you seen a Volkswagen car that's like a bug? Um huh, you know what I'm talking about. That's how big the heart of a blue whale is. I know it's not possible, but if that heart was in me, could I love more?...I would like to." --Sapphire, Push Answer: short

  8. What kinds of sentences are these? “I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. (1) That's the thing about girls.  (2)Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.  (3)Girls.  (4)Jesus Christ.  They can drive you crazy.  (5)They really can. ” --J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye Sentence 1: short Sentence 2: long Sentence 3: staccato Sentence 4: staccato Sentence 5: telegraphic

  9. What kind of sentence is this? “Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—bonds and gestures pushed to one sidelike an outdated combine harvester,and everyone young going down the long slide.” --Philip Larkin, “High Windows” Answer: long

  10. Elements of syntax: ARRANGEMENT The order of words in a sentence can also be important in trying to figure out the meaning or effect on the audience. There are FOUR types of arrangements we’ll focus on…

  11. Loose sentence • The actor/action (or subject/verb) is at the BEGINNING of the sentence • The rest of the sentence is all detail • Examples: • “One of his eyesresembled that of a vulture—a pale eye with film over it.” -Edgar Allan Poe, “Tell-Tale Heart” • Wereached New York that morning after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences. • The effect: emphasize the main point in the beginning so that the reader can get the facts fast.

  12. Periodic sentence • The actor/action (subject/verb) is at the END of the sentence. • The beginning of the sentence is all detail that leads up to the big finish. The sentence doesn’t make sense until the end. • Examples: • “In the brightness of the wintry sub next morning as it streamed over the breakfast table, helaughed at his fears.” --W.W. Jacobs, “The Monkey’s Paw” • That morning, after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences, wereached New York. • The effect: Build anticipation to emphasize the main point at the end. It creates suspense and ends with the punch.

  13. Practice: Periodic or loose? • “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, while I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.” --Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven” 2. “This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” --F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby Answer: periodic Answer: loose

  14. Practice: Periodic or loose? 3. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” --The Declaration of Independence Answer: loose 4. “ I can’t imagine why that would be frustrating at all — just because someone refuses to tell you what they’re thinking, even if all the while they’re making cryptic little remarks specifically designed to keep you up at night wondering what they could possibly mean.” --Stephenie Meyer, TwilightAnswer: periodic

  15. Parallel Structure • using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance • Examples: • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” • “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. Hehas erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.” --Declaration of Independence • The effect: repetition sticks in our brains!

  16. Practice: Is it parallel? “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” --Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” Answer: YES!

  17. Practice: Is it parallel? “You don’t see yourself clearly at all. You’re not like anyone I’ve ever known. You fascinate me.” --Stephenie Meyer, Twilight Answer: YES! “A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.” --Arthur Miller, The Crucible Answer: NO! “Then the old man got to cussing and cussed everything and everybody he could think of, and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped any, and after that he polished off with a kind of a general cuss all round, including a considerable parcel of people which he didn't know the names of, and so called them what's-his-name when he got to them, and went right along with his cussing.” --Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Answer: NO!

  18. antithesis • emphasizes the contrast between two ideas • The structure of the phrases is usually similar in order to draw the reader's attention directly to the contrast. • Effect: very useful for clarifying differences which might be otherwise overlooked • Examples: • “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” --Neil Armstrong • Notice: the structure is similar (one small step/one giant leap) • Notice: opposite ideas are expressed (small/giant, step/leap) • “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” –Alexander Pope • Notice: the structure is similar (to err/ to forgive) • Notice: opposite ideas are expressed (err/forgive, human/ divine) • It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. –Alexander Pope • Notice: the structure is similar (father to have children/ children to have a father) • Notice: opposite ideas are expressed (father/children)

  19. Practice: parallel structure or antithesis? • “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” –William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Answer: antithesis 2. “My only love sprung from my only hate.” –William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Answer: antithesis 3. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” –Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac Answer: parallel structure

  20. Types of sentences • Declarative: statements • Example: “All morons hate it when you call them a moron.” -J.D. Salinger • Effect: matter of fact tone. Gives the facts. • Interrogative: questions • Example: “What’s in a name?” –William Shakespeare • Effect: Usually meant to get the audience to think about the answer. • Imperative: demands or requests • Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” -JFK • Effect: call to action OR can be seen as aggressive • Exclamatory: !!!! • Example: “I don’t mind folks coming in and getting what they want, but three quarts of milk!” –Toni Morrison • Effect: creates emotion of excitement, exasperation, desperation, etc.

  21. Practice: what type of stewie sentence is this? “How you uh, how you comin' on that novel you're working on? Huh? Gotta a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Gotta, gotta nice litte story you're working on there? Your big novel you've been working on for 3 years? Huh? Gotta, gotta compelling protagonist? Yeah? Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh?” --Stewie, Family Guy Answer: interrogative

  22. Practice: what type of stewie sentence is this? • “Oh, yes, Meg, yes-yes yes, everything was going swimmingly for you until this. Yes, yes, THIS is the thing that will ruin your reputation, not your years of grotesque appearance, or your awkward social graces, or that Felix Ungerish way you clear your sinuses, no nono, it's THIS.” --Stewie, Family Guy Answer: declarative

  23. Practice: what type of stewie sentence is this? “Pipe down Lois. Hey big man, turn around.” --Stewie, Family Guy Answer: imperative “BLAST! Good Lord Lois, either I was a c-section, or you're Wonder Woman! Answer: exclamatory

  24. Method for discerning syntax • Does the author use sentences that are staccato, telegraphic, short, medium, or long? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are mostly loose or periodic? What’s the effect? • Does the author use parallel structure or antithesis? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory? What’s the effect?

  25. homework: analyze this! “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.” --Oscar Wilde • Does the author use sentences that are staccato, telegraphic, short, medium, or long? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are mostly loose or periodic? What’s the effect? • Does the author use parallel structure or antithesis? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory? What’s the effect?

  26. homework: analyze this! “Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself.” --Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck • Does the author use sentences that are staccato, telegraphic, short, medium, or long? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are mostly loose or periodic? What’s the effect? • Does the author use parallel structure or antithesis? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory? What’s the effect?

  27. homework: analyze this! “How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man? How many seas must a white dove fly, before she sleeps in the sand? And how many times must a cannon ball fly, before they're forever banned?” --Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind” • Does the author use sentences that are staccato, telegraphic, short, medium, or long? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are mostly loose or periodic? What’s the effect? • Does the author use parallel structure or antithesis? What’s the effect? • Does the author use sentences that are declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory? What’s the effect?