- Taschenbuch: 166 Seiten
- Verlag: Longman; Auflage: 00005 (10. Juli 2006)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0321441699
- ISBN-13: 978-0321441690
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,5 x 1,5 x 20,1 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 130.752 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Revising Prose (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 10. Juli 2006
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This remarkable little book, intended as a supplement for any course that requires writing, models a clear, step-by-step system for creating straight-forward, concise, intelligible and readable prose.
This remarkable little book, intended as a supplement for any course that requires writing, models a clear, step-by-step system for creating straight-forward, concise, intelligible and readable prose.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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For instance, he takes this sentence:
Pelicans may also be vulnerable to direct oiling, but the lack of mortality data despite numerous spills in areas frequented by the species suggests that it practices avoidance.
And turns it into:
Pelicans seem to avoid oil spills by avoiding the oil.
Even by his own method, this sentence is far too long. It could just be:
Pelicans seem to avoid oil spills.
But, he goes on to ask immediately after "Have I left out anything essential?" He at least asks the question, but he doesn't answer it. This is where he fails. A good reviser retains meaning and has to ask himself what the original sentence actually asserts. Lanham is distracted by turning one sentence into one shorter sentence that his Paramedic Method doesn't stop to consider if one sentence should turn into two or more sentences. Assertions, the very reason we communicate, should be the priority.
In the Pelican example, there are several assertions:
* There is no mortality data
* There are numerous oil spills in the area
* Someone thinks pelicans might be vulnerable to direct oiling (as opposed to shipping?)
* The oil doesn't seem to affect pelicans
* Someone (who?) guesses the pelicans just avoid the oil
In Lanham's revision, he only conveys the last assertion, which is not only the least interesting one, but the least supported one. Most of the original sentence is about someone's conjecture about the problem and its effect. The qualifications are necessary to let the reader judge the information correctly. The revision removes that completely. A better, but longer, revision might be:
We think pelicans are vulnerable to oil spills, but we haven't found many dead pelicans among the numerous oil spills. Maybe they avoid the spills.
I find the proper analysis also lacking from his discussion of the active voice, where he might use an active verb but doesn't choose the right actor. That sentence is not about pelicans. It's about someone drawing conclusions about pelicans. Even in Lanham's own writing, the passive voice is common and misguided.
He's quite proud of "skotison", the word he uses to describe inflated prose, and uses an example of Alexander Pope's translation of a poem into plain english. Pope's satire isn't the basis for an editorial philosophy though, as it loses almost all intended meaning just as Lanham's pelican example does. Poems don't exist to codify a series of actions. Instead, they try to describe perception and feeling, using imagery as best it can. Simply saying "shut the door" does not do that. It's cold, sterile, and utterly boring.
As such, if you are not a writer or an editor, this is a decent enough book to start your revisioning education for your own material. However, it's not a good enough guide to become even a decent editor. There's too much that the Paramedic Method ignores.
Lanham's revision structure dismantles sentences, removing what he calls the "Lard Factor," leaving prose that is active, streamlined, and comprehensible to general readers. I was initially bothered that Lanham's system favors sentences over concepts, until I saw that repairing damaged sentences exposed weak ideas. This process turns flabby, uninspired prose into something people would actually want to read.
Moreover, Lanham proves revision important beyond academia. Business, legal, and other official writing is often overstuffed and weak, frequently concealing flaccid thinking. Lanham shows how excising the crap reveals the real heart of the message, the heart writers often conceal.
Lanham occasionally wanders off the ranch. His asides expound libertarian politics incidental to writing, afflicted with rah-rah boosterism that infects his chapter on Electronic Prose. A devotee of new tech, Lanham gets excited about the tools electronic writing makes available. But anyone who's sat through most PowerPoint lectures or celebrity Twitter feeds knows that ability to say things in new ways doesn't give people something worthwhile to say.
These problems aside, Lanham's uncomplicated but potentially revolutionary system offers hope to writing students and teachers, business writers, lawyers, and anyone else who needs to revise their work. It also offers a glimmer of hope that language as a weapon of obscurity can be beaten. I'd like to give this book to every teacher in America.
If this book is assigned to you, the wit and sarcasm DO make it easier to digest the instruction. I don't know if the writer's views on writing are right 100% of the time, and I think he definitely picks the most outlandish examples of the Official Style to get the readers to agree with his viewpoint. Even so, taking this book and applying it to you writing will make you a better writer.
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