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Purposes[change | change source]

The writer needs to tailor style to the situation. For example, the same person writing a letter to the same reader would use a different style depending on whether it is a letter of complaint, a letter of condolence, or a business letter. The author needs to decide whether the goal of the writing is to inform, persuade, or entertain.

Invisible structure[change | change source]

Prose as one half of a conversation, as answers to questions the reader might ask.

Prose as fitting into a problem--solution structure.

Proposed guidelines[change | change source]

Criteria for sentences[change | change source]

The following is a checklist for sentences. It is consistent with advice in published sources, adapted for our needs.

  1. Simplified words should not change the idea or meaning of the sentence in any important way.
  2. Non-simple words may be necessary. If so, use one of these methods:
    1. link it to a page which explains the word. Check that link does indeed explain the word.
      1. link to a wikt page
      2. link to a Simple page
    2. put it in a footnote: a simple in-line reference is acceptable.
    3. explain it on the spot: this requires care, because it may interrupt the flow of text.
  3. Vocabulary should be used accurately.
  4. Syntax must be correct. Verbs in correct tense, different parts of sentence agreeing, &c.
  5. Content of a sentence should be expressed in the most clear and straightforward manner:
    1. use as few words as is consistent with clarity.
    2. meaning of sentence should be unambiguous. A reader should not be in doubt as to what it says.

Examples[change | change source]

1[change | change source]

The American bullfrog is the largest of the "true frogs" family.[1] Bullfrogs can reach a length of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). Females are larger than males.[2] Bullfrogs can weigh up to 1.7 pounds (770 g).[3][4][5] Bullfrogs are either brown or green. They also have darker spots on their back.[1][2] Bullfrogs have webbed feet for swimming.[6] They can leap up to 6 feet (1.8 m).[7] Male bullfrogs can be heard roaring when mating with a female. Males also have bigger tympanic membranes which cover their ears.[1] Bullfrogs have brown or gold eyes. They also have broad flat heads and bodies.[1] The mouth of a bullfrog are small and have tiny teeth inside.[6]

Comments[change | change source]

  1. Over-referencing is a pestilence. One or two sources could be used for the whole paragraph, and need not be constantly repeated.
  2. Paragraph type is: Here's a thing, and another thing, and another, and another. Meaning? Relevance?
  3. Prose is English of the most static type, because it does not develop from the start to the finish of the paragraph. It is really a list of attributes.

2[change | change source]

Bullfrogs can live up to 4-5 years.[7] There was one captive bullfrog that had lived up to 16 years.[8] Males are territorial and will attack any animal, including their own kind, if they come near them.[9][10] They will jump, wrestle, and even chase any animal away.[7] Bullfrogs are good at hearing.[7] A group of bullfrogs are called an "army".[4]

Comments[change | change source]

  1. Problems with verb formats
  2. Problems with slack wording "chase any animal away"??
  3. Dissonance between first and second sentences.
  4. Last sentence: why here, rather than elsewhere? = lack of topic consistency in a paragraph.

3[change | change source]

Many bullfrogs are known to have many viruses and bacteria. However, only a few of them are important to nature.[11] Bullfrogs was blamed for an intraerythrocytic virus outbreak in Canada in 1997. They were also blamed for a chytrid fungus that spread into Arizona in 2000. The chytrid fungus is believed to be one of the major causes of the decline in amphibian populations.[11] Many bullfrogs can have many parasites including helminths, trematodes, nematodes, protozoans and leeches.[11]

Comments[change | change source]

  1. Everything here is open to objection, especially a lack of clarity as to the intended message.
  2. First sentence is fatuous: says nothing that is not true of ourselves, or blackbirds, or indeed any multicelled animal or plant. So why say it? Exactly the same criticism to the last sentence. Basically, a page on a taxon should deal with that taxon, not say things which are true of two whole kingdoms of living things.
  3. Notice the link, which takes the reader to an article which does not explain the linked word. It has been put in to satisfy the perceived requirements of a GA proposal, but is actually a kind of fraud. Imagine the disappointment of a reader who thinks "I wonder what that word means --- oh, great, I just have to touch the link and it'll tell me!" Some hopes...

Style guides[change | change source]

University of Chicago 2010. The Chicago manual of style. 16th ed, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-10420-1

Reading list[change | change source]

How to do it (general)[change | change source]

Text linguistics and English (suitable for teachers)[change | change source]

  • Jordan, Michael 1984. Rhetoric of everyday English texts. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0 04 420048 X
  • Hoey, Michael 1993. On the surface of discourse. London: George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-415003-2
  • Nash, Walter 1980. Designs in prose: a study of compositional problems and methods. London: Longman. ISBN 0 582 29101 1
  • Schmitt N. & McCarthy M. 1997. Vocabulary: description, acquisition and pedagogy. Includes Nation I.S.P. "Vocabulary size, text coverage, and word lists". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-58551-4
  • Werlich, Egon 1976. A text grammar of English. Hanover: Quelle & Meyer. ISBN 3-494-02065-5

References[change | change source]