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Mr. Jonathan Worley, j.worley@smucb.ac.uk Senior Lecturer in Written Communications St. Mary’s University College Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (NI): Critical Thinking and Analytical Writing. Written Communication Style and Composition. Senior Secretarial Skills Programme.

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Written Communication Style and Composition


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    1. Mr. Jonathan Worley, j.worley@smucb.ac.uk Senior Lecturer in Written Communications St. Mary’s University College Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (NI): Critical Thinking and Analytical Writing Written Communication Style and Composition Senior Secretarial Skills Programme

    2. Plan for the Day • Introduction:Meaning v. Accuracy • Exercise: ‘Correct’ a Letter • Weapons in your Arsenal • Common Misunderstandings • Extrinsic and Intrinsic Genre • Sentence Accuracy and Style • The Writing Process • The Paragraph • Clarification: Revision, Editing, Proofreading

    3. Introduction Making Meaning, Making Errors

    4. Everywhere I see problems with writing. . . .

    5. What are we to make of them?

    6. ‘Students these days can’t write!’‘If I have to correct one more apostrophe in a student essay, I’m going to scream.’‘It doesn’t matter what you say as long as you say it well.’ ‘We regularly filled up a lecture theatre with adult learners who wanted to study grammar, but tests given at the end of the course showed that their writing had not improved one bit.’ ‘The apostrophe as a requirement of formal writing is rapidly on the way out.’ ‘Two points off for every grammar error!’ ‘I was never taught grammar in school.’ Smart, successful graduate student: ‘I still have no idea where to put commas.’ ‘A recent graduate who came to work at our business cannot even write a business letter and their reports have to be rigorously reviewed for grammatical errors. I’m embarrassed to have to point them out, and they are embarrassed that they don’t know them.’ ‘There are significant grammar errors here, but let’s ignore them for now.’ Students were given two weeks to proofread the final draft of their essay. 80 of the students made no changes at all, even though their essay was being penalized for grammatical errors. ‘We just have to wean out the weak students.’‘Students who make grammar errors can be given a series of handouts.’‘Students who come to college or university should already know how to write: it’s not our job to teach these students how to write.’‘I keep giving students general advice on how to write an essay, but they don’t follow it!’ ‘Some good points. You need to go to the writing centre, though, to get rid of your grammatical errors.’ ‘Our business doesn’t need any instruction in grammar. Most information is cut and pasted from documents already in the computer.’ ‘We need to get rid of that writing teacher who doesn’t teach any grammar! It matters more what you are trying to say than how you say it. ‘This piece of writing is a piece of shite, and I don’t give a shite’ ‘hi jonathon can I have na extension on my essay’ [e-mail]. You are such a pedant when it comes to grammar! They went to the writing centre, and they’re still making grammar errors.

    7. The Message • The most important aspect of writing is genuine communication. • However, the way you write may interfere with meaning: • You may be misunderstood. • You may amuse or annoy others with your errors. • Your style may work against you.

    8. Grammar is about right and wrong: Grammar Syntax (sentence structure) Spelling Usage Mechanics (manuscript form, punctuation, capitalisation) Style is about choice: Word Choices Sentence Choices Tone, Voice Audience Genre Figurative Language Structural Choices ‘Not right and wrong but good better, best. —Edward P. J. Corbett Grammar v. Style

    9. Two Kinds of Errors • Appearance Errors -> You are a sloppy dresser! (2,3,4,5,6,8,9,11,12,13) • Meaning Errors -> 1,7,10,15,16) Errors directly and significantly related to making of meaning.

    10. Introductory Anecdote And Full-Class Exercise

    11. Letter from my Son’s Football Coaches

    12. What difficulties do you see with this letter? Dear Parents, First,of all I hope everyone had a great christmas and hopefully a new year which will bring a couple of results for us! Our next two fixtures are against Springfield Star (13th January) and Orangefield (20th January), both 10am kick offs at Billy Neil . Apparently these are our last two remaining games before the league splits into two sections, with the bottom half playing each other and the top half playing for the league title. No fixtures or dates have been drawn up for this yet but we'll take it as it comes. When the league splits an important change will be made to the rules of the game, the offside rule is introduced. For us to teach kids this offside rule in a matter of weeks is a nightmare and so we have been feeding them the offside rule gently as the season has went on which has cost us a few goals. It would certainly help if you the parents could help with the explaination of 'offside' at home when thefootball is on Sky Sports or Match of the Day, just thebasics to get it into the minds and then we can putthem through practice in traini ng.

    13. Sixteen Common ‘Grammatical’ Errors Or Sixteen Ways to Lose Your Reader

    14. Weapons in Your Arsenal Understanding Common Misunderstandings Or Rules that you Never Should Have Learned

    15. “Never put a comma before ‘and’.” • On my pizza I favor squid, seaweed, hot peppers, anchovies, and goats cheese. • On my pizza I favour squid, seaweed, hot peppers, anchovies and goats cheese. • Your taste in pizza is European, and mine is American. • Your taste is your taste and my taste is my taste.

    16. ‘Never begin a sentence with because.’ • Why can’t I go out to play? Because I said so! • Because I said so, you can’t go out to play.

    17. “Never use I.” • I would like to invite you to dinner. • We would like to invite you to dinner/ • On behalf of George Bush, I would like to invite you to dinner. • You are invited to dinner. • Queen’s University invites you to dinner.

    18. “Never use I”(Scholarly Setting) • I think Wordsworth’s poems display originality. • Wordsworth’s poems display originality. • Scholars disagree whether Wordsworth’s poems express originality. • In this essay, we will discuss Wordsworth’s originality. • Wordsorth’s originality will be discussed. • This essay will explore Wordsworth’s originality. • Wordsworth’s originality shines out in every poem. • One thinks Wordsworth’s poems are original.

    19. Any other burning questions?

    20. Weapons in Your Arsenal Recognizing Genre

    21. Genre Extrinisic Genre — A particular kind of writing that has a set of expectations tacitly agreed between reader and writer. Intrinsic Genre — Unique to each piece of writing but operating under extrinisic genre assumptions.

    22. Proposal

    23. Technical Report Technical

    24. Navy Team Public Affairs Crisis Response: Recovery Operations for Trans World Airline Flight 800 Background Research One of the basic tenets of Department of Defense public affairs is maximum disclosure with minimum delay. Navy Team Public Affairs specialists know that accidents involving a death or serious injury adds a special set of concerns. Personal privacy and sensitivity for victims and their families tempers our response. We are familiar with crisis operations. Team Public Affairs has responded to the exceedingly challenging environment of crisis ... where initial details are sketchy; first reports are wrong; the demand for information is overwhelming; and satellite-bounced broadcast news slices through the time between accident and first report. But nothing could prepare us completely for the crash of Trans World Airline's Flight 800 in July 1996. There was almost no time for research. Team Public Affairs relied heavily on lessons learned from the past, even though the past wasn't an exact fit. We quickly decided that a look at the environment Team Public Affairs specialists would face in the wake of such a tragedy was a key to our research effort. People and resources we could use to put a public relations plan into action were catalogued and summarized. And then we had to get going. Out of this environment of chaos certain lessons from the past turned up once again. These basic lessons or concepts popped out of our research. They would later anchor our plan of attack. We needed to educate target audiences ... audiences who probably knew little about our capabilities. Sensitivity and care for the feelings of the victims' families was paramount. An ongoing investigation limited what could be released and determined when information was provided to the public. Various agencies were involved in crisis response actions, and coordination of public relations efforts was a key to successful communication. The pressure to produce and release information would be overwhelming at times. Media from everywhere would swoop in on the crash site in large numbers, and they would get and then report bad information. This could shake public confidence. Our lessons learned reminded us that anyone involved in this effort might go from humanitarian status to target for ridicule and blame. We needed seasoned public relations professionals on scene ... and on scene quickly. Our on scene Team Public Affairs professionals would have public information release authority. Because the crash site was remote-and at sea-we needed to bring our own photo and video capabilities. We would be capturing and then releasing the images that the media needed to tell the story.

    25. Example: Business Letter (Request) Proper addressing Proper salutation or greeting Short and to the point No digressions Tone of competence and energy Single-spaced and blocked Short paragraphs Avoid familiarity Avoid colloquial language Be careful with jargon Every kind of writing has its own genre (and, perhaps, sub-genre).

    26. Intrinsic Genre • キConsidering Your Audience • キEvaluating the Person You Represent • キAssessing Tone For 'Friendliness' • キAssessing Length • キAssessing Urgency of Communication • キAssessing Degree of Formality • キAdding Evidence and Detail • キDon't Overstep Your Boundaries

    27. As a senior secretary. . . What are your responsibilities?

    28. As a Senior Secretary, you… • May be given more responsibility. over the content of documents. • May have to write on behalf of someone. • May be the one who takes minutes at high-level meetings. • May have to learn about your ‘manger’s’ or ‘boss’s’ style of communication.

    29. Other Responsibilities. . .

    30. You may do the following kinds of writing: • Compose business letters on behalf of someone else. • Take dictation. • Edit academic documents.

    31. Other Kinds of Writing

    32. Weapons in Your Arsenal The Sentence

    33. 1. Write in complete sentences.

    34. Whoever thought learning to read and write would pay off?

    35. My novels started getting a lot better after I started using verbs.

    36. The Sentence What is a sentence?