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ARTFUL SENTENCHS:Syntax as Style Virginia Tufte ACKNOWLEDGMENTSy thanks go, first of all, to the authors of more t. “In Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style,Virginia Tufte shows how standard sentence Brooks Landon, University of Iowa, in Building Useful Sentences, page Virginia Tufte Syntax as Style. Uploaded by. shami12 · The Art of Styling Sentences - Fourth Edition. Uploaded by. baolanchi · GrammarAsStyleExercises. pdf.


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In Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, Virginia Tufte presents — and comments on — more than a thousand excellent sentences chosen from the works of authors. In Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, Virginia Tufte presents-and comments on- more than a thousand excellent sentences chosen from the works of authors in. Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style. Virginia Tufte. Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style . raukhamatfrogal.tk ISBN: ,

Adjectives like baroque, curt, libertine, loose, plain, courtly, and grand carried aesthetic, cultural, and even moral overtones. Others like trailing, rambling, circuitous, hopping, tumbling, and jog-trotting suggested affinities of language with motion, exercise, even acrobatics. Sir Francis Bacon, in contrasting what he called magistral or peremptory prose with probative, associated prose techniques with those of law and science. Critics later than Bacon, with labels such as metaphysical, prophetic, romantic, and democratic, brought into the description of prose an aura of religion, sentiment, and politics.

A recent classification of prose styles distinguishes five primary types: the deliberative style of persuasive prose; the expository, that of the treatise, the lesson, and the sermon; the prophetic style, of biblical prophecy, of Stoic philosophy, and of the essay all of these styles with counterparts in narrative writing ; the tumbling style, itself a narrative style of energy and heavy accent; and the indenture style of legal documents and private formal messages.

The twentieth century has made frequent use of the label colloquial to align written prose with the speaking voice. Professor Gibson, unlike many critics, offers some precise and observable characteristics to identify the three categories. With a few exceptions, however, most efforts to divide and classify style do not succeed in telling us very much more than do impressionistic definitions of style, of the sort collected by Professor Milic: "Le style, c'est Vhomme meme" Buffon.

Or "In stating as fully as I could how things really were, it was often very difficult and I wrote awkwardly and the awkwardness is what they called my style" Hemingway. The welter of impressions summoned up by the very idea of style, like the many reactions a single piece of writing can awake in us and the parade of labels we muster to approximate our feelingsall this merely attests to the richness of language, and should not in itself hinder our appreciation of it.

The beginning writer, however, like the critic, needs a more accurate and consistent method, and a more concrete vocabulary, for examining the work of others and for making and remaking his own. The emotive and the metaphoric should not be lost to the study of language and could never be to reading itselfbut should be accompanied by and grounded in some more careful and specific observations.

The intuitive approach must not be cured, it must be educated. To this end it is a premise of Grammar as Style that an understanding of syntax can be most instructive. This confidence rests on another premise, namely that style can be found to depend closely on grammar and can be thought of in this way at no cost to the subtlety and strength and emotional variety of its effects.

To defend this assumption we must now brave the crossfire of the debate about the nature of style and its relation to meaning. A stand must necessarily be taken on this issue before style's relation to grammar can be adequately decided.

A position must be secured somewhere between the opposing forces of the ornamental and the organic schools, between those who think that meaning precedes and is then decorated by style, and those who feel that meaning and style are simultaneous because the same. If style is purely ornamental, if it only adorns written ideas, it can hardly be possible to consider grammar as style.

Grammar is itself the carrier of ideas, syntax 3 4 no accessory but the very means of meaning. This fact seems also at first to exile grammar-as-style from the opposing organic view, in that the same grammatical form must carry many different meanings.

Thus, if style is meaning, grammar can claim only small and unconvincing credit for the full impact of any piece of prose. The grammar-as-style idea could, of course, reconcile itself to this organic theory, which is certainly much sounder and more useful than thinking of style as ornament. Grammar could, if it had to, live with the rudimentary role thus assigned it in comprising the whole meaning that is style.

But the title-thesis of this book would welcome a more complete marriage of grammar and style, performed with benefit of theory, and it is worth contending briefly with the organicists in order to have this. They have almost won the day.

Their position is established as a kind of orthodoxy, and they defend their truth against all heretical comers. Richard Ohmann observes that their cause, which champions the union of form and content, "has nearly attained the status of dogma, of an official motto, voiced in the triumphant tones of reason annihilating error.

Wimsatt's rendition of the ornamental view he is opposing: "It is as if, when all is said for meaning, there remains an irreducible something that is superficial, a kind of scumwhich they call style.

Perhaps we can call forth an example that will help settle this, at least for all practical purposes. The example comes from C. Lewis, from the famous conclusion to his chapter on "Courtly Love" where he summarizes the retractions of medieval writers with an implied metaphor of truancy: In the last stanzas of the book of Troilus, in the harsher recantation that closes the life and work of Chaucer as a whole, in the noble close of Malory, it is the same.

We hear the bell clang; and the children, suddenly hushed and grave, and a little frightened, troop back to their master. There is some controversy about Lewis's ideas here, his reading of Medieval literature, but it would widely be agreed that his last sentence, say, is quite well done. Subscribers to the organic theory, where style and meaning are inseparable, if they happened to disagree with Lewis's attitude toward 5 6 7 Richard Ohmann, "Prolegomena to the Analysis of Prose Style," in Essays on the Language of Literature, ed.

Levin Boston, , p. William K. Wimsatt, Jr. Lewis, The Allegory of Love London, , p. Lewis might have written "We hear the bell sound; and the children, suddenly taciturn and solemn, and somewhat alarmed, return to their master.

The organicist might rightly insist that, if he had, he would have meant something different from what his actual sentence managed to say. We can object that changes in diction have made the sentence flaccid and lifeless, but we should also notice that they have caused it to say something not quite the same as the original. Changes in syntax, however, alter meaning, if at all, much less obviously.

Endure one more revision as example: "We hear the bell clang, and the children are suddenly hushed, grave, and a little frightened, and they troop back to their master. One may surely say that more is lost to our enjoyment in reading the idea than is lost to our understanding of it.

There may be an enlightened sense in which meaning and emphasis have been minutely altered, but to nothing like the extent to which rhythm and impact have been violated. Our first revision suggests that diction, a major element in what is usually called style, is so much allied with the specific meaning of words, as well as with levels of usage, that it lends itself easily to the organicist position. It is in the area of syntax, as seen by comparing Lewis's original with the second revision, where style can best be recognized as something not exactly like meaning, and where one feels justified in talking at some length about grammar as style.

When the example from Lewis was brought to the rescue, it was said to be recruited "for all practical purposes. It is all very well for teachers to ask their students to improve their thinking, to refine their powers of meaning, until their new brand of thought warrants nice, stylish sentences, but this is almost certain to produce no results. Better to instruct them, with practice and example, in the many possibilities of English proseand, importantly, of English syntaxso that they can make anything they might have to say clearer, more assured, more attractive.

With this new access to the countless effective ways of putting ideas down on paper, writers may well become eager to make use of appositives, say, or of nominative absolutes, of devices learned for subordinating ideas, of right-branching sentences maybe, or of the previously undreamed of benefits of parallelism.

Doing this, writers are likely to think through their ideas, elaborate and sharpen them, until they deserve such professional treatment.

When this becomes habitual, the actual teaching of style is over. One last excursion into theoretical waters, however, may yet be worthwhile, to find out a bit more exactly what those qualities of style are that we enjoy in a sentence of C. Lewis, for instance, and how those qualities owe, for a large measure of their success, a discoverable debt to the nature of English syntax. Venturing once more into theory, we again need to adopt a compromise position.

It profits us to consider Richard Ohmann's modest but important one, in the essay already cited. He divides style into "epistemic choice" and "emotional form. Grammar figures importantly in this phase of "style. Ohmann admits, as he must, that this does not amount to much of a departure from the conventional organic view. He is talking about a writer's persistent manner, not about particular sentences in isolation. Stylistic tendencies thus accompany tendencies in meaning, and style as a "habit of meaning" is little more than a generalization, for a particular writer, about style as meaning, and grammar as its carrier.

Syntax begins to separate from meaning, as style, only in the second stage of Ohmann's classification, in the area of feeling rather than of choice. Traditional rhetoric tells us about the emotion involved in persuasion, and Ohmann adds the feeling of personal expression, the recorded emotion of a private speaking voice. He suggests that a sentence begins by raising rather than answering questions, and that the incomplete utterance sets up demands for completion.

These demands for completion of a sequence are of course subverbal; they are the vaguest sort of dissatisfaction with suspended thought, with a rational process not properly concluded. As the sentence progresses, some of its demands are satisfied, others deferred, others complicated, and meanwhile new ones are created.

But with the end 8 9 10 8 9 1 0 Ohmann, p. Ohmann, p. Ohmann speaks here in "the vaguest sort of" terms, making his way toward a feeling for style as itself a matter of feeling, and, consequently, as a matter hard to be exact about. But is this quality of style really so much a "subverbal" phenomenon, really so elusive as to tax description "almost beyond the power of language"? Is it not, rather, a very sensitive way to appreciate, apart from meaning, and with a real sense of its nature and function, the role of syntax itself at that final level of reading that goes beyond the reception of ideas to the emotional response we have, and the pleasure we take, in the way we are allowed to receive them?

Take as examples Ohmann's last two sentences from the passage just quoted. In the first, a parallel syntax, tightened by ellipsis, itself complicates the sentence, and defers its conclusion.

Meanwhile, Ohmann adds mention of new created demands by adding a new clause to tell about them. The unmistakable rhythm of his sentence is an effort to give us in his own prose some feeling for what he is saying about sentences at large, and his means are neither mysterious nor subverbal. They are syntactic. Grammatical patterns establish the "demands for completion" and move us along until they are satisfied.

So too with his last sentence, which might have run: "But a kind of balance which results from something having been said comes with the end of the sentence. It should be clear, too, that his larger theoretical understanding of a sentence's felt movements rests on the very nature of syntax on its rhythm as a series of relationships unfolded in time.

A dictionary records that syntax is "the arrangement of words as elements in a sentence to show their relationship.

Syntax has direction, not just structure. It starts, and goes forward, and concludes. It is an order of grammar experienced in a certain order, not a system or arrangement so much as a successionsyntax as sequence.

As a stretch of verbal space, a sentence has an entrance and an exit and a terrain we cross and trackand all this over a stretch of time. As an emotional span, uniting its movement in space and time, a sentence seems to generate its own 11 1 1 Ohmann, p. As a verbal terrain, as a series of encounters across it, or as the emotional curve that follows them through, the sentenceas a unit of styleis being defined by its syntax. It is often said of prose, as of poetry, that it must be read aloud to be really known.

The indispensable quality of prose that is met by the ear in reading, that must be heard as passing sounds and stresses and ideas, that must be listened to as much as understood, followed through as a sequence rather than grasped whole as a structure: it is this quality that brings style and syntax closest together.

For it is the effect of syntax on style. It is grammar as style. And it is, of course, the subject of the present book. The concept of grammar as style will guide our examination of those syntactic effects that are divided over the following chapters. These chapters, incorporating both traditional grammar and more recent ideas about the structure of English, will consider one by one the major elements of sentence-making. At the same time, inevitably, they will suggest the value for stylistic analysis of syntax considered as sequence.

They will not have to labor the point. The usefulness of this approach reveals itself at every turn. Even kernel sentences, the spare source from which other structures and sentences are generated, work as a sequence, however compact.

They set up a basic pattern of expected order, and are expanded with this in mind. There must be something to talk about, the noun phrase, and once the subject has been selected, something must be said about it in a predication, a verb phrase.

Adjectives and adverbs help tofillout the patterns, and they do not merely specify or qualify or complicate. They have a place as well as a meaning.

They come before or after the word with which they are associated, to anticipate or complete its meaning, sometimes piled around it in groups of two or three, or more, to dramatize what they do.

Prepositional phrases, too, expand the patterns. More than just signaling a new relationship, a preposition that starts a phrase makes an independent grammatical move, briefly channeling the sentence away from its main course in some new syntactic direction. Simple conjunctions and correlatives are readily available for compounding, and thus enlarging the parts of a basic sentence, or for hooking two sentences together.

They are less important to the drift of a sentence because they weigh the elements they join and tell us they are equal, however, than because they reveal a decision to give us one before the other, to move us along in a determined order.

Coordination itself is a logical relation, but in syntax it is also a sequence. Kernels are expanded with dependent clauses, for a remarkable variety of effects. The way we leave such clauses and move into the main one, or encounter them in the middle of a main clause, or come to them later, the whole strategy of sequence and transition accounts for the chief effects of relative and subordinate expansions.

Neither is the sentence opener a static factor, a grammatical fixed point to which the elements that follow are attached. On the contrary, the opener can be a crucial first move, overcoming inertia, ushering us into a thought, or nudging us backward for an instant, before activating necessary grammatical momentum to send us off in one syntactical direction or another. Inversions other than those necessary for questions and exclamations also have an important stylistic role.

They can manipulate the order in which we reach certain parts of a sentence. Varying the way we normally receive information, their effects, successful or not, may shift the focus, may alter the linkage of one sentence to another.

In addition to the familiar means of expanding kernel structures, and of opening all kinds of sentences, a whole class of nonrestrictive modifiers, well-named free modifiers by Francis Christensen, also depends on syntactic movement for its effects. When free or even bound modifiers come together in such numbers or are so extensive themselves as to define the overall shape of a sentence, when they accumulate before the subject, or between it and the verb, for instance, or after the predicate of the base clause, their weight and placement are so important to the sentence that we are warranted in using directional labels: left-branching, mid-branching, and right-branching sentences.

Professor Christensen's title for the last, the cumulative sentence, also captures that interest in one-thing-afteranother that is at issue here. Often the cumulative sentence makes use of the nominative absolute construction.

It creates a grammatical subplot quite distinct from the main action of a sentence, and one sequence must be held loosely in mind while the other is assimilated. Perhaps the most useful of all free modifiers, and one of the easiest to master, is the appositive. It renames smoothly without requiring any change in syntactic plan.

It simply appears after sometimes before the word or phrase it restates, and we are involved as much in the feeling of afterthought, or of arriving clarification, as we ever are in a sense of alternate and equal possibilities. It really matters what comes first, what is named, and how it is then amplified. With appositives as with all free modifiers, and indeed with syntactic expansion in general, order and movement are more important than structure and logical relationship.

The process of transformation is able not only to enlarge the basic patterns with added or embedded materials, but also to deform certain kernels themselves into new arrangements, and these may stay short or themselves receive new material.

Interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory transforms are examples, with distinct emotional patterns of emphasis and expectation set up by their syntax. With the passive transformation, minor changes in meaning and emphasis may occur, sometimes with deadening results. But when passives are cleverly used, it is often their syntactic features on which a writer is capitalizing.

Artful Sentences - Syntax as Style.pdf - Virginia Tufte...

The passive can serve as a kind of tactical inversion. It can be used to arrange ideas for a special stress, or to move them into positions from which they can be more easily modified. Within a single sentence or across wider verbal spaces, syntax also has an important part to play in the experience of parallelism and cohesion. It is a role that assumes an audience reading one thing after another and feeling how things begin to take shape as they have done before, or how one idea grows out of another comfortably, coherently.

The dramatic analogy here, of a role played to a reading audience, is deliberate.

Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style

It is meant to suggest again what the recent discussion has said about syntax as sequence, with every sentence performing its own separate drama and involving the emotions of its readers in the way it develops syntactically and is worked out. The main grammatical action of a sentence and its subplots should never be at odds with meaning, of course, but they have a motion and a rhythm all their own.

Yet when the rhythm and sequence of syntax begins to act out the meaning itself, when the drama of meaning and the drama of syntax coincide perfectly, when syntax as action becomes syntax as enactment, this last refinement of style is called syntactic symbolism.

It is the subject of the last chapter of this book. Beginning with a thesis that allows us to talk separately about style and meaning, we naturally work toward the organicist's equation of the two, the fusion of form and content, not as the inevitable condition of language, but as a very special achievement. These last few paragraphs have rapidly surveyed the syntactic topics that head the remaining chapters of Grammar as Style.

This summary has hastily sketched some idea of the gains to be made by thinking of these topics in terms of syntax as sequence.

This concept will be touched on repeatedly in the remaining chapters and demonstrated with many examples. The syntactic phenomena selected for discussion have earned a place in such a book because of their considerable bearing on the subject of style. Much has been overlooked. What has not, it is hoped, is the most important. Excerpts from contemporary writers are everywhere in these chapters.

They have been gratefully borrowed for their capacity to perform the double duty assigned them here: to exemplify the syntactic phenomenon in question, and to demonstrate its contribution to style. They are chosen, in general, to be representative samples of good prose. Some are very fine; a few poor ones are included now and then to show an amateur what not to do to improve. The search was made through reviews, quarterlies, and journals, learned and otherwise; through all sorts of popular magazines, newspapers, and collected journalism; through biography, history, studies in social and political science, art, and literature; and through original literature itself, essays, stories, and novels.

The examples are ordinarily sorted and arranged after some general discussion about the grammatical topic, and they appear with a minimum of additional comment. The assumption is that once we know what to listen for when we read, we can learn most by allowing good sentences to speak for themselves.

It is high time to let our examples have their say. Kernel Sentences Chapter And the words slide into the slots ordained by syntax, and glitter as with atmospheric dust, with those impurities which we call meaning. Anthony Burgess, Enderby, p. This epigraph may sound like the work of a grammarian caught in a rare use of metaphor and simile. The novelist, indeed, is using the term "slots" as some grammarians do, to identify the key locations fixed by syntax, the important grooves into which words fit to make sentences.

Just as the sentence is the basic unit of English speech, so the kernel is the basic unit, the core, of the English sentence.

It is the germ from which other patterns grow and branch, and to which still others can be grafted, whole or in part. It is defined by its "slots.

Diction resides at that level of writing where style and meaning, as we have seen in the first chapter, are one. Diction, not syntax, is probably the most important single aspect of style, as it is of meaning. Burgess is right: it is the words that give off the real light of a sentence, that shine and sparkle and glitter, sometimes radiant with an author's inspired choice.

Virginia Tufte - Grammar as Style

All syntax can do, and it is a very great deal, is to make the right word shine to its best advantage, as brightly as possible and in just the right place, set off from others or clustered with them. Syntax ordains position in the constellation of words that is meaning. This book is about what happens when words participate with syntax in this way.

A study of diction itself is indispensable, but syntax rather than diction is our particular subject, although something can be learned about diction from the masterful choices in many of the coming syntactic samples. But our main chore will be to see where words can and should go once the right ones have been hit upon.

Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style. Virginia Tufte

Underlying all of "the slots ordained by syntax" is the concept of the kernel sentence. Noam Chomsky once described kernel sentences as "simple, declarative, active sentences in fact, probably a finite number of these " and as "sentences of a particularly simple sort that involve a minimum of transformational apparatus in their generation.

I do not for a minute forget the dark gusts that roll dooms like tumbleweeds in the night across troubled America. But, for a few hours on a few days, at least I see the mixture. I know the paradox of this country. Ray Bradbury, Any Friend of Trains Is a Friend of Mine, 50 link- ing arrangements can be very effect Perhaps people think A Manfor All Seasons is so great because unlike the usual movie which is aimed at twelve year-olds, this one is aimed at twelve-year-old intellectuals and idealists.

And if they re grown into compromising and ' An intransitive can relieve longer patterns in the center. Here, three in unprincipled people, can hail A Manfor All Seasons as a masterpiece: heroism so remote, so totally the property of a superhuman figure, absolves them of human weakness.

Yet this same all- Pauline Kael, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, " powerful ocean now proves as slavishly subservient to natural laws as a moth caught by candlelight or a rose seed Now and then a linking pattern, or more often an intransitive or a transitive, joins a i?

The ocean obeys. It heeds. It complies. It has its tolerances and its stresses When these are surpassed, the ocean falters. It was brightness. Here, from a daydream; appears to be in sweet reverie, I interrupt gently to tell him: Carol Brightman, Character in Biography, " By the way, 1 love your books. In this use, as everywhere, they are less common than the other three types.

When they are appropriate, however, these ive, as in the example below: He smiles to thank me. I do not for a minute forget the dark gusts that roll dooms like tumbleweeds in the night across troubled America.

But, for a few hours on a few days, at least I see the mixture. I know the paradox of this country. Ray Bradbury, Any Friend of Trains Is a Friend of Mine, 50 link- ing arrangements can be very effect Perhaps people think A Manfor All Seasons is so great because unlike the usual movie which is aimed at twelve year-olds, this one is aimed at twelve-year-old intellectuals and idealists.

And if they re grown into compromising and ' An intransitive can relieve longer patterns in the center. Here, three in unprincipled people, can hail A Manfor All Seasons as a masterpiece: heroism so remote, so totally the property of a superhuman figure, absolves them of human weakness.

Yet this same all- Pauline Kael, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, " powerful ocean now proves as slavishly subservient to natural laws as a moth caught by candlelight or a rose seed Now and then a linking pattern, or more often an intransitive or a transitive, joins a i?He fired off a gun and made the people listen.

The next sample offers an exact contrast to the above in its convening of active kernels of Types 3 and 4 with limited expansion, to portray a frenzy of violent action.

Is it not, rather, a very sensitive way to appreciate, apart from meaning, and with a real sense of its nature and function, the role of syntax itself at that final level of reading that goes beyond the reception of ideas to the emotional response we have, and the pleasure we take, in the way we are allowed to receive them? I woke about nine o-clock, had a bath, dressed, and went downstairs.

Grammar could, if it had to, live with the rudimentary role thus assigned it in comprising the whole meaning that is style. Milic gives evidence of this when he points to some of the adjectives other critics have applied to the prose style of Jonathan Swift, among them civilized, clear, common, concise, correct, direct, elaborate, elegant, energetic, graceful, hard-roundcrystalline, homely, lucid, manly, masculine, masterly, muscular, nervous, ornamented, perfect, perspicuous, plain, poor, proper, pure, salty, simple, sinewy, sonorous, strong, vigorous.

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