Tag Archives: Roger Smith

“The tone is college admissions essay.”

 

“The tone is college admissions essay. Typical sentence: ‘In an environment of maximum pressure, I learned to ignore the noise and distractions and instead to push for results that would improve lives.’ ”

“Every political cliché gets a fresh shampooing. ‘Even in a starkly divided country, there are always opportunities to build bridges,’ Kushner writes.”

— Dwight Garner, review of Breaking History: A White House Memoir, By Jared Kushner, The New York Times, August 17,. 2022

Generic writing, aka boilerplate.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

  August 2022

Walt Whitman, ‘Slang in America”

 

Walt Whitman, ‘Slang in America’ – North American Review, November 1885

 

Posted here (PDF file above):

Walt Whitman, ‘Slang in America”

North American Review

November 1885

 

“Language, be it remembered, is not an abstract construction of the learned, of of dictionary-makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity. ….”

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

  August 2022

 

 

pedantic words and phrases (an authorial “sin”? I would say, it depends on the author)

 

Another of Gissing’s stylistic quirks — the pedantic term imported from Latin or Greek — appears near the climax of “Too Wretched to Live”*: “As he glanced at the handwriting, a woman’s delicate chirography . … ” From the Greek root kheirographon, that bookish final word intrudes upon a scene of supposedly high emotion. The former classics student from Owens College, Manchester, never lost his taste for ink-horn phrases. To the end of his writing career, he retained a preference for erudite words over plain ones — for visage or physiognomy over simply face. Even in Born in Exile (1892), one of his finest novels, we find a broad sprinkling of learned expressions: “susurration,” “sequaciousness,” “intenerates.” Thus the fancy word chirography in the Daily News story provides further evidence of George Gissing’s authorship.

— Robert L. Selig, “An Unknown Gissing Story from the Chicago Daily News,” Studies in Bibliography, 36 (1983), pp. 208-209.

*An early story by George Gissing, published in the Chicago Daily News  during the period Gissing spent in the United States during the late 1870s.

 

Stylistic peculiarities in “A Game of Hearts” also suggest Gissing’s youthful handiwork. The story’s prose contains the same stilted diction that frequently shows up in his signed early tales: “albeit” as a variant for although, “peradventure” for the noun doubt, “metropolis” for city, the high-flown “missives” for letters, and the pedantic “contained therein” rather than simply in it. Similar pompous usages occur, for example, in Gissing’s early story “My First Rehearsal.” “Be it premised that” for assume that; “the moon, which luminary” for the moon, which; “I doubted not” for I felt sure that; and “a trifle hot for pedestrian exertion” rather than just walking. The stiffly learned style appears to reflect the social unease of the youthful George Gissing–a wish to show off his bookish education and distinguish himself from the unlettered masses.

— Robert L. Selig, George Gissing: Lost Stories from America (Edwin Mellen Press, 1992)

 

– posted by Roger W. Smith

   March 2022

TOO MANY words

 

When asked by a student once, how long should a composition be, my high school English teacher replied: as long as required to cover the subject; no more or less.

 

*****************************************************

 

The following is an essay about the invasion of Ukraine by Patrick Le Hyaric, a French journalist, politician, member of the European Parliament, and a director of the newspaper L’Humanité.

“Le monde peut basculer dans le pire d’un instant à l’autre”

By Patrick Le Hyaric

Le monde peut basculer dans le pire d’un instant à l’autre

This opinion piece is far too long. The author says far too much. Which is to say, in other words, he tries to say everything he or one can conceivably think about the subject of his essay. Whereby he ends up confusing the reader and not conveying anything clearly, really. His key points — whatever they are — get lost in a muddle.

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    March 1, 2022

new post: inclusive language (mandated by the language police)

 

Please see me post

“This is going too far.”

on my Roger’s Gleanings site

This is going too far.

 

It is about language policing.

— Roger W. Smith

the “man in the street” story

 

Roger’s man in the street paper

‘Holiday Spirit Glimmers as New York Endures Another Pandemic Christmas’ – NY Times 12-24-202`

Maurice Carroll re Oswald – Boston Globe 11-25-1963 (2)

 

In journalism school, we learned how to do a “man in the street” story.

You see them all the time. The reporter randomly interviews people in a city or town about some current issue, development or trend, and/or breaking news. It involves a lot of shoe leather.

I am posting my own “man in the street” story from journalism school here. Note how our instructor, Maurice C. (Mickey) Carroll (a city reporter for New York Newsday), edited my submission, striking out unneeded phrases. I learned a lot from him about how — especially in newspaper writing — to make my writing more concise. I thought I already knew how. He showed by example (with an editor’s magic marker) how more words could be excised from a piece that I thought I had already done the requisite polishing of.

I am also posting here a very good example of a “man in the street” story from last week’s New York Times (“Holiday Spirit Glimmers as New York Endures Another Pandemic Christmas.” December 24, 2021). A lot of reporters were involved in doing the interviews.

I also can’t resist posting here a story I came across that my professor, Carroll, wrote about Lee Harvey Oswald that was published on November 25, 1963 when the former was a young reporter.

 

— posted by Roger. W. Smith

   December 28, 2021

how to say nothing in 1,035 words … generic writing II

 

 

‘Anxiety About Wokeness Is Intellectual Weakness’

 

This is a type of discourse — writing — often seen in pronouncements by educators (e.g. , university presidents), corporate chieftains, CEOs of nonprofits, and (of course) politicians.

With political statements and speeches, it’s obvious. With the rest, it’s more subtle.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    November 2021

misgendering?

 

 

On October 7, the Author’s Guild, to which I belong, had a Zoom conference; “Finding Your Agent: 7 Steps to a Successful Query Letter.”

I find that such presentations vary in usefulness, but there are usually one or two helpful tips. The conference was well attended. The presenters were two young professional women in the areas of publishing and writing who were articulate and knowledgeable.

Discussing how to write a letter in which one pitches a book, they began by advising: If you have met the editor before — say at a conference or lecture — it is a good idea to mention that you have met before, so as to remind them of you.

Then they said, it’s probably best to begin the letter “Dear Mary,” or “Dear Phil.”

I thought to myself, what? This is good practical advice? When I was about the age of the presenters, and was trying to get a foothold in the publishing industry, or to get hired for freelance work — and when writing letters in general then and even now, as well as emails — my default, if I am not on personal terms with the person I am writing to, is “Dear Mr.” or “Ms.,” “Dear Professor,” and so on. And, of course, beginning with being taught how to write a letter in grade school (is this taught any more?), we were taught the importance and rules of the elements of a letter such as the salutation.

The presenters from last week explained: it’s best to write “Dear Mary” or “Phil” if you don’t know the person. You wouldn’t want to be “caught” misgendering them, they said. They said this with complete assurance, as if we all would know what they were talking about and would agree with this. Heaven forbid we should be so clueless as to not know this.

What is this politically correct world coming to? I thought.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2021