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Old September 27th, 2013 #21
M.N. Dalvez
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I want to take this opportunity to point out the difference between grammar, which governs the use of words and phrases and clauses (and the relationship between them), and syntax, which governs sentence structure and meaning.

For example: a sentence can be grammatically correct, but if the meaning which is given by the sentence is different to the intended meaning, that's more than likely due to a syntactical error or (on the part of the reader) a lack of understanding of a syntactical feature in a given language.

Syntax is also a massive category, which governs many, many different features of language use.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #22
Alex Linder
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Originally Posted by Donnie in Ohio View Post
That's approaching profound, Alex.
Not at all, but I'm pretty sure it's true.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #23
Randal Goode
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
It appears to be a typo or a missed edit, but it's not, and you see that when you read it the second time.
Do you mean the second "I" in "I feel I" is not a typo? If not, then you need commas: I feel, I, music was better 20 years ago. There is a pause present when you say it aloud the way you intend.

"Fortysomething" does not seem to be hyphenated in usage, as far as I can tell.

There is no need for "that" to precede "music." It should always be edited out. You are correct.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #24
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Originally Posted by M.N. Dalvez View Post
Why do you ask, Alex? Did someone, elsewhere, 'take issue' with that sentence on grammatical grounds?
No. I'm trying to find if there's a name for what I did. Almost all rhetorical techniques have some Greek name. These names I have seen but don't know by heart, I just know how to do them by instinct, basically. This particular one is one I have not seen or used much. I'm trying to recreate with words the actual thought pattern people have when they are making the pedestrian point that "music was better back then." My point is what they really mean is "_I_ was better back then." Once the basic idea(s) are settled, it is a question of how to phrase them...best. I phrased it in a deliberately unsual way. Such that 99/100 readers would blip over it and assume it was a typo, but in fact it was not a typo, it was a deliberate attempt to produce an effect, the one described: you read it slowly thinking about it and you see the psychology of the speaker reflected in the words. Which makes the point.

I don't THINK the way I did it is ungrammatical. Even if it were, I wouldn't care because it's an artistic formulation, and grammar yields to production values where it must, as decided by the writer, the effects producer. It's just an interesting question to me. Then also I wonder, as said, if there's a name for this technique. It may not technically be a technique at all, merely an elision, in that I could have said: I really think I -- I mean, I really think music -- was better back then. I'm saying the same thing but oddly. To produce an effect, stimulate a sensation and recognition - of the psychology and true meaning behind the commonplace.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #25
Alex Linder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M.N. Dalvez View Post
I want to take this opportunity to point out the difference between grammar, which governs the use of words and phrases and clauses (and the relationship between them), and syntax, which governs sentence structure and meaning.

For example: a sentence can be grammatically correct, but if the meaning which is given by the sentence is different to the intended meaning, that's more than likely due to a syntactical error or (on the part of the reader) a lack of understanding of a syntactical feature in a given language.

Syntax is also a massive category, which governs many, many different features of language use.
The art lies in the syntax. Whatever idea you want to get across, there are 1,000 ways to phrase it. If there weren't I wouldn't have gone into writing because it wouldn't interest me.

The ideas I communicated in that sentence could have been put a different way. Could have been put ten different ways. You choose the words and the order of the words in order best to produce the effect you're trying achieve in the reader.

You've heard people say "music was better back then." You've heard that many times.

Now you see that same idea, but with a change. A change pregnant with meaning.

I feel I music was better back then.

What is that second I doing in there? If it's not a mistake, what does the writer mean by that?

Then you SEE. You THINK. It's not really hard to grasp, in this case, what he means by that, once you realize it's intentional.

Oh... hmm... interesting...

Then your next thought would be, well, when is my favorite music from. And then you realize it was stuff you listened to when you were, say, 16-20. So what he says is true in your case. What about others? Are they like you and me and the writer? Or do you find a lot of people whose favorite music is from before 1900?

Don't most people like the music of the period in their life in which they listened to music the most? Wouldn't that be high school and college with most people?

So there it is. We have an idea, true or untrue, or merely thought-provoking, delivered artistically, not merely communicatively, whether the art is at the level of fingerpainting or Carnegie Hall violining.

See...this is the shit that interests me a lot more than politics, which is 99% boring and obvious.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #26
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Originally Posted by Randal Goode View Post
Do you mean the second "I" in "I feel I" is not a typo? If not, then you need commas: I feel, I, music was better 20 years ago. There is a pause present when you say it aloud the way you intend.
No. That would be valid, but that's not what I mean. I wasn't emphasizing that "I" feel this way, I worded it that odd way to make the point that I feel I was better back then, as well as that the music was better then. The second I and the music are on the same level, like dual barrels of a shotgun. The rest of the sentence pertains to both of them, as though there were two full clauses or sentences. But there aren't, just th one noun and the other, bare. I kind of like that effect, it has interested me more in recent years. Way to pack more meaning and efficiency into shorter space.

Quote:
"Fortysomething" does not seem to be hyphenated in usage, as far as I can tell.
It's used a noun. One would hyphenate it as an adjective.

Last edited by Alex Linder; September 27th, 2013 at 01:29 AM.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #27
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Originally Posted by Alex Linder View Post
No. That would be valid, but that's not what I mean. I wasn't emphasizing that "I" feel this way, I worded it that odd way to make the point that I feel I was better back then, as well as that the music was better then.
I understand. I thought you meant to emphasize yourself. But I don't think you are managing to convey your intended meaning. You're making a good try, though. I just don't think you succeeded here. But it is indeed no small part of a writer's ambition to always convey a thought, or particular feeling, in a unique way or style. We like getting it down just so in just so few words. Then we stand back and smile at our singular creation, swollen with pride. John MacDonald said it best. We either read other writers with weary contempt or grinding envy.

I actually didn't even see the second I when I first read it. Funny how that happens; words and sentences flow such a way, sometimes. Preconception takes over often in our reading. Our eyes actually only scan over words and sentences, our minds already processing and registering the rest. And sometimes there are mistakes.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #28
Donnie in Ohio
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Originally Posted by MikeTodd View Post
Heer at VNNf I've learned the utility of italicization.
(thanks, Donnie. I owe you one, man.)
"The emphasis placed on words, spoken or written, are the salt of any sentence". - Vanilla Ice
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Old September 27th, 2013 #29
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Originally Posted by M.N. Dalvez View Post
Yeah, OK, 'proper noun' was a better way to say it, but that's what 'proper name' means.
Ohhh - I didn't realise you meant a noun when you said proper name, although you are of course correct. I assumed you meant christian names. I actually know someone called Winter and of course we have a Summer posting here.
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Old September 27th, 2013 #30
Donnie in Ohio
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Originally Posted by Bev View Post
Ohhh - I didn't realise you meant a noun when you said proper name, although you are of course correct. I assumed you meant christian names. I actually know someone called Winter and of course we have a Summer posting here.
Should "Christian" be capitalized there? Why yes, I do believe it should. Odd, that.
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Old September 27th, 2013 #31
M.N. Dalvez
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The art lies in the syntax.
Yeah, I had that thought before. The syntax is where the meaning, and (more importantly) where the sheer joy and fun of language is to be found.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #32
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Originally Posted by Donnie in Ohio View Post
Should "Christian" be capitalized there? Why yes, I do believe it should. Odd, that.
Yes it should but I don't capitalise it because I'm not one and don't recognise it as being worthy of a capital letter.
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Old September 27th, 2013 #33
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Seems like it should read: I feel music (and myself) was better then, than now.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #34
Donnie in Ohio
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Originally Posted by Bev View Post
Yes it should but I don't capitalise it because I'm not one and don't recognise it as being worthy of a capital letter.
That sounds pretty intolerant. WWOD? What would Odin do, Bev?
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Old September 27th, 2013 #35
Mike in Denver
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At some level of writing there is no platinum-iridium bar at the bureau of standards for correct grammar, syntax, and punctuation. The better the writer, the more leeway.

One thing: if a thousand literate readers read your sentence, probably all one-thousand would guess you'd made a typo. That is, unless you were a very prolific writer...then I suppose some of your readers would just attribute the second I to your unconventional style.

Mike

1. I used to over-capitalize. I think I've cured myself of this.
2. I still overuse commas. The problem is I just don't much edit what I've written.
3. I write a lot of incomplete sentences. Tough shit! I like em...gonna continue writing incomplete sentences.
4. I use the artifact "..." a lot. It keeps me from having to remember the differences for all the dashes and hyphens. If I could get a patent on "..." I would.

Mike

If there are errors in the above, it's because I don't much edit what I've written. I should work on this.
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Last edited by Mike in Denver; September 27th, 2013 at 10:38 AM.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #36
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Originally Posted by Donnie in Ohio View Post
That sounds pretty intolerant. WWOD? What would Odin do, Bev?
Seeing as he's all about war, battle and victory, what do you think he'd do?

The christians did his folk no favours.
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Old September 27th, 2013 #37
Alex Linder
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Originally Posted by Randal Goode View Post
I understand. I thought you meant to emphasize yourself. But I don't think you are managing to convey your intended meaning. You're making a good try, though. I just don't think you succeeded here. But it is indeed no small part of a writer's ambition to always convey a thought, or particular feeling, in a unique way or style. We like getting it down just so in just so few words. Then we stand back and smile at our singular creation, swollen with pride. John MacDonald said it best. We either read other writers with weary contempt or grinding envy.

I actually didn't even see the second I when I first read it. Funny how that happens; words and sentences flow such a way, sometimes. Preconception takes over often in our reading. Our eyes actually only scan over words and sentences, our minds already processing and registering the rest. And sometimes there are mistakes.
I think I succeeded. Remember, this was a tweet. 140-character limit. So the reader should be prepped for an epigram. Each letter carries more weight when the restrictions are that tight.

Like I said, the idea could be expressed 100 different ways, but I prefer my way. Most will miss it, you're probably right about that, but I'm going for the higher end with this sort of stuff.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #38
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Originally Posted by Donnie in Ohio View Post
"The emphasis placed on words, spoken or written, are the salt of any sentence". - Vanilla Ice
True - but you're supposed to convey that by your word choices and order, not through italicization. That is, if you write it correctly, you don't need the italicization - it's naturally there. So that italics are basically only used where they are supposed to be, due to various rules requiring it.

This is not my view, I'm giving you the conventional view. Personally, I think you're an excellent writer, and it doesn't bother me if you want italicize a lot of words, but truly, just fyi, what I'm telling you is the standard view. Not that anyone is aware of it these days.

I mean, I can read what you write, and where you have used italics is where I would put the emphasis anyway - which means you're doing it right, you're writing / communicating effectively, and the italics is, for your readers like me, redundant.

Really, writing is just a form of music using words, and if you aren't tone deaf, you can pick up the feel and flow, and understand the patter and the pattern, feel it in your blood. You can tell how the writer is thinking, and where his emphasis falls. It truly is musical. Read Mencken - that's writing at its most delightful, the sound and the sense in perfect harmony.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #39
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Originally Posted by jaekel View Post
Seems like it should read: I feel music (and myself) was better then, than now.
It could.

Look, this line isn't aimed at average people. I'm not trying to serve fine Italian food to people living in Amarillo, Texas. I'm attempting to deliver an artistic delicacy to the 10%, perhaps, actually paying attention, capable of appreciating something interesting, new and possibly good.
 
Old September 27th, 2013 #40
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I'm not just delivering an idea that at least I have not personally seen before, I'm coupling what might be an original valuable insight with an unusual syntactical formulation.

Yes...I could have explained the idea very very slowly and simply, that the dullest among us might appreciate it. Not what I was trying to do.

What I did was subtle. But intelligible to the intelligent minority, I believe.
 
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