Great Courses, Great Sentences, 02 of 24

Life got a bit busy for a while, but getting back to writing and back to this particular project.

First post with information is here.

A very short summary of lecture 2:

  • “Effective and elegant writing” is writing where the reader can read with the confidence the writer is good at not just presenting the information, but at actually writing. Meaning that the reader is confident that the writer realizes how their text presents itself and is actively working at building a relationship with the reader through leading the reader through a process of logic or learning or the arc of someone’s story.
  • Grammar is just how the words relate to each other. Grammar does not relate to meaning.
  • Which means a sentence can be grammatically correct but not effective or elegant. Professor Landon uses the analogy of grammar being the machinery of a sentence, but the machinery doesn’t tell either the writer or the reader where the writer wants to go.

Questions to Consider for lecture 2:

  1. Pick the opening sentence from an article and rewrite it in completely a different style.
  2. What have your ideas about style been?

My answers:

  1. Varying SentencesSentence: “All the current nationalist parties of small nations in Europe—the Scots, the Welsh, the Basque, the Catalans, the Flemish—strongly support membership in the European Union, which is dedicated to, and even predicated upon, the extinction of national sovereignty.” from “Nationalist Contradictions in Europe” by Theodore Dalrymple in, dated June 27 2016.Variations -Sparse: “The European Union is predicated upon and only works with the extinction of national sovereignety, but all current nationalist parties of small European nations support membership in the European Union.”

    Emotional and subjective and editorializing: “Although it makes no logical sense, the nationalist parties of small European areas such as Scotland, Wales, the Basque and Catalan regions of Spain and the Flemish regions of Belgium all want to remain part of the European Union, which clearly will act to the exact opposite of any national or regional entity since the European Union doesn’t work unless it makes all of Europe the same.”

    Lush and a bit flamboyant (and not very well fact-checked): “The rebellious and warlike Scots who ran the Romans legions back behind Hadrian’s Wall, the independent Welsh, the prickly Basque who have kept their own language which is nothing like any of their neighbors’ languages, and the Catalans who were once their own proud country for hundreds of years, the Flemish who have maintained their own identity even though they were crushed by German forces twice in as many generations, what they all have in common is the bizarre and self-destructive wish to remain part of the European Union which was explicitly based on destroying exactly those differences that make all of these ethnic groups so individual and unique.”

  2. Style?Before I listened to this lecture, I have to admit I thought of style as being a flourish that lets the author insert a bit of their own personality.But after listening to this lecture and after going through question 1 for this lecture, I can see how style affects a little bit which information is presented and how it affects a lot whether just the facts will be remembered, or the emphasis on the facts, or the emotional message the author is trying to present using the facts they cited.



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