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191 PROSE STYLES: TOUGH, SWEET AND STUFFY by Don L. F. Nilsen.

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Presentation on theme: "191 PROSE STYLES: TOUGH, SWEET AND STUFFY by Don L. F. Nilsen."— Presentation transcript:

1 191 PROSE STYLES: TOUGH, SWEET AND STUFFY by Don L. F. Nilsen

2 192 POINT OF VIEW: THE NOVEL:THE AD:THE TEXT BOOK: ETHOSPATHOSLOGOS TOUGH SWEETSTUFFY 1 ST PERSON2 ND PERSON3 RD PERSON SUBJECTIVESUBJECTIVEOBJECTIVE INFORMALINTIMATEFORMAL

3 193 TOUGH LANGUAGE Tough language is the rhetoric of Frederic Henry in Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms: “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the pain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels.”

4 194 It is the language of intimacy, the language of no pretentions. The words are simple and the grammar is simple. The writing is not planned, but just happens, in a stream of consciousness kind of way— you are there. The sentences are short and choppy. If there is conjunction it is coordination, not subordination. It is the language of the loosened tie and the rolled up shirt sleeves, with no pretentious multi-syllable or low-frequency words.

5 195 Being egocentric, it is subjective, and whether it is written from the author participant or the author omniscient point of view, it is concerned with communicating people’s innermost feelings. Tough language is the language of fiction, and therefore the process of “in medias res” is totally appropriate to this style—”In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountain.

6 196 SWEET LANGUAGE Sweet language is the language of advertisers. Walker Gibson calls this language AROMA (Advertising Rhetoric of Madison Avenue). Sweet language is listener-oriented in an attempt to seduce listeners into buying products they don’t want or need.

7 197 It is language full of innovative spellings, creative grammar, and wild punctuation. Sweet writing contains many sentence fragments, and would rather flaunt a grammatical rule than conform to it: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. What do you want, good grammar, or good taste?”

8 198 Sweet language is the language of sensationalism, the language of superlatives and hyperbole. It is the language of diversion; it plays tricks on the reader with its puns, its word coinages, its humor, its packaging, its sex, and other aspects which have nothing to do with the product itself. It is informal, or sometimes even intimate or cutesy in tone.

9 199 Contractions, clippings, blendings, and deletions abound, making it all the more cryptic and intimate. It’s full of slang expressions like “no doubt about it,” “cut it out,” and “where else?” It can be cutesy, as in “Dry skin? Not me, darling. Every inch of little me is as smooth as (well, you know what).”

10 1910 Gibson says that a common kind of coinage in sweet language is the noun-adjunct construction (a noun modified by another noun). We see this kind of coinage in “Speakerphone,” “Fooderama living,” “decorator colors,” and “Supermarket selection.” The Bell Company praises the beauties of its “hands-free, group-talk, across-the-room telephone.

11 1911 STUFFY LANGUAGE Where tough language is I-oriented, and sweet language is you-oriented, stuffy language is it-oriented. It is the language of laboratory experiments, of research papers and theses and dissertations and scholarly books, and academia in general.

12 1912 Stuffy language is highly grammatical and highly formal. The syntax contains a great deal of subordination, and the sentences are frequently long and complex. Infinitives, gerunds, present and past participial constructions, nominative absolutes, perfect, progressive, and passive constructions are almost totally confined to this style of writing.

13 1913 It is an impersonal style to the extent that first-person pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common. Stuffy language is also the language of limitations, restrictions and qualifications because the writer doesn’t want to make claims beyond the evidence. Limiting (as opposed to descriptive) adjectives are frequent, as are prepositional phrases and relative clauses.

14 1914 THE BIRMINGHAM RIOTS: REPORTED IN THREE DIFFERENT STYLES “The police and firemen drove hundreds of rioting Negroes off the streets today with high pressure hoses and an armored car.” (New York Times May 8, 1963)

15 1915 “Three times during the day, waves of shouting, rock-throwing Negroes had poured into the downtown business district, to be scattered and driven back by battering streams of water from high- pressure hoses and swinging clubs of policement and highway patrolmen.” (New York Herald Tribune)

16 1916 “The blaze of bombs, the flash of blades, the eerie glow of fire, the keening cries of hatred, the wild dance of terror at night—all this was Birmingham, Alabama.” (Time, May 7, 1963)

17 1917 SUMMARY OF WORD DEVELOPMENT: THE NOVEL:THE AD:THE TEXT BOOK: COLLOQUIALCOLLOQUIALFORMAL SLANG: CHARACTERSLANG: AD NO SLANG DEPENDENT MODALS GERUNDS INFINITIVES PERFECTS PROGRESSIVES SPELLING =SPELLINGS =SPELLINGS = CHARACTERSCREATIVECORRECT ANGLO-SAXONANGLO-SAXONINKHORN TERMS WORDSWORDSGREEK & LATIN

18 1918 SUMMARY OF SENTENCE DEVELOPMENT: THE NOVEL:THE AD:THE TEXT BOOK: SHORT, CHOPPYLONG, COMPLICATED FRAGMENTSPERFECT GRAMMAR COMMA SPLICES SIMPLESIMPLELONG & COMPLEX RESTRICTIVE MODIFIER SIMPLE SENTENCESCOMPOUND & COMPLEX SENTENCES CASUAL PUNCTUATIONPERFECT PUNCTUATION RHETORICALSENTENCES DON’T QUESTIONSMAKE CLAIMS BEYOND IMPERATIVESEVIDENCE THEY,YOU,

19 19 !SUMMARY OF PARAGRAPH AND DISCOURSE DEVELOPMENT! THE NOVEL:THE AD:THE TEXT BOOK: STREAM OF CASUALSTRUCTURED CONSCIOUSNESS INDUCTIVEWHATEVERDEDUCTIVE NOTE: THE NEWSPAPER IS SUPER DEDUCTIVE BECAUSE PEOPLE READ HEADLINES; AND MAYBE FIRST PARAGRAPH (WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE, HOW); AND LATER MATERIALS GET BURIED OR CUT MUCH INUENDOINTIMATE & CUTESYCAUSAL AND IMPLICATION

20 1920 !!SUMMARY OF USE OF FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE THE NOVEL:THE AD:THE TEXT BOOK: AUTHOR PARTICIPANT?AUTHOR AUTHOR OBSERVANTOBSERVANT AUTHOR OMNISCIENT MAINLY TROPES:MAINLY SCHEMES:LITERAL IN MEDIAS RESALLITERATION METAPHORASSONANCE IRONYRHYME POETIC JUSTICECUTESY TONE SIMILES ALLEGORIES

21 1921 !!!SUMMARY OF PUNCTUATION THE NOVEL:THE AD:THE TEXT BOOK: CREATIVECREATIVEFORMAL USE OF: PUNCTUATIONPUNCTUATIONSEMI COLONS PERIODS PARENTHESES DASHES HYPHENS RESTRICTIVE AND NON-RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES PROPER CAPITALIZATION USE OF ELIPSES … [SIC] BRACKETS, ETC.

22 1922 References: Barry, Anita K. English Grammar: Language as Human Behavior, 2 nd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness, 10 th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, Gibson, Walker. Tough, Sweet and Stuffy: An Essay on Modern American Prose Styles. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Nilsen, Alleen, and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20 th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.


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