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Thread: Poor English

  1. #11
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Here's the most famous "worst opening line" ever:

    "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

    --Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

    Yes... this was where "It was a dark and stormy night..." was born.
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

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    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Found a blogger who describes why it rubs me the wrong way:

    Language Log: The Dan Brown code

    I think what enabled the first word to tip me off that I was about to spend a number of hours in the company of one of the worst prose stylists in the history of literature was this. Putting curriculum vitae details into complex modifiers on proper names or definite descriptions is what you do in journalistic stories about deaths; you just don't do it in describing an event in a narrative. So this might be reasonable text for the opening of a newspaper report the next day:

    Renowned curator Jacques Saunière died last night in the Louvre at the age of 76.

    But Brown packs such details into the first two words of an action sequence — details of not only his protagonist's profession but also his prestige in the field. It doesn't work here. It has the ring of utter ineptitude. The details have no relevance, of course, to what is being narrated (Saunière is fleeing an attacker and pulls down the painting to trigger the alarm system and the security gates). We could have deduced that he would be fairly well known in the museum trade from the fact that he was curating at the Louvre.
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

  3. #13
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flak View Post
    It sucks; I'm saying that sucks doesn't matter in English class.
    Generally... maybe... but it depends on who's teaching (doesn't it always?)...

    My English teacher would have skewered us for something like that...
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel De Mazarin View Post
    but it depends on who's teaching (doesn't it always?)...
    I guess that's why I hate English classes.

  5. #15
    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flak View Post
    I guess that's why I hate English classes.
    And that's why I don't participate in Creative Writing courses at my college or plan to do an MFA... people who can write are just able to write, and where they lack they know exactly what they need to do. It's only the people who aren't born writers but who are still desperate to publish who have to rely on MFAs, in my opinion.

    I'll admit, however, that I see a lot of talented writers still getting MFA's, and I'm always puzzled, since they could have probably spent their time learning something new and exciting (which would contribute to their work) while still honing their writing skills on their own time and with interested peers.

    I guess what I'm saying is that you can teach grammar and a certain amount of style, but you can't teach someone to be a good or great writer. He/she just is one.
    Madman's azure lie: a zen miasma ruled.

    Realize us, Madman!

    I razed a slum, Amen.

    ...............................................

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel De Mazarin View Post
    I guess what I'm saying is that you can teach grammar and a certain amount of style, but you can't teach someone to be a good or great writer. He/she just is one.
    ...And I guess what I'm saying is that even if you're born a great writer, your English teacher might have a different idea of great, and you'll get merely average grades (Even though you might entertain people with your writing in the real world). It's dangerous to be an exception.

  7. #17
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Getting average grades is danger?
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Getting average grades is danger?
    Could be...What if you need a good grade for some reason? Anyway, I'm capable of adapting to teachers' whims, it just makes me sick to my stomach.

    Note: It's also extremely insulting. Have you seen papers written by "average" students? I mean, my God. I couldn't even explain them without writing an essay of my own. They're a bit like Dan Brown's work, but with more words and less information.

  9. #19
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    BAH! I could write a book on this subject; if people could speak English perfectly, however, I would not have a job. It does not bother me when Germans or non-native speakers make blatant grammatical errors. It does not even bother me when native speakers do it in works that do not matter. But professionals who write badly just piss me off. It makes me think - damn, hire me! I could do a better job!
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  10. #20
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Default Marshall McLuhan and Paris Hilton

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel De Mazarin View Post
    I guess what I'm saying is that you can teach grammar and a certain amount of style, but you can't teach someone to be a good or great writer. He/she just is one.
    This is an interesting problem. Particularly as creative writing courses have mushroomed. They are everywhere. And everyone, well almost everyone, wants one.

    I think this can be explained because creativity and creative writing has become visible to everyone.

    And remembering that all environments are invisible - fish didn't discover water - that means creative writing, or even writing, is no longer our environment.

    So what is our environment now?

    Well we are in it at this very moment - we are in the electronic environment or what some call the noosphere.

    And whereas the literate environment creates values such as creativity and empathy, the electronic environment, the noosphere, creates presence.

    For instance, Paris Hilton, is pure presence. She has no or little creativity. And most important she is disparaged by almost everyone but we can't take our eyes off her because she is present.

    So as we drive forward looking in the rear vision mirror, we are looking into the past environment that values creativity. And when we look through the windscreen we are looking into the electronic environment that values presence.

    And most of us haven't yet learnt to value presence, so it is only natural that we disparage presence and of course Paris Hilton.

    And so here we are, Sammy, (I hope you don't mind me calling you Sammy), present to each other in almost real time.

    Really the only thing that matters here is our presence - either we post and are present or we don't post and we are absent. We are like God and the Angels - whose presence is only concealed by their absence.

    So we can expect, dear Sammy, that in the not too distant future that all the creative writing classes will be replaced by classes in Presence.

    And Marshall McLuhan and Paris Hilton will be our patron saints.

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