Style Most information from Rude, Carolyn. Technical Editing, 4th ed. Primary Examples from Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: the rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication: 15.3, pp. 338. http://www.fcop.co.uk/images/admintron/slytartan.gif
“Style in language is the cumulative effect of choices about words, their forms, and their arrangement in sentences” (251). • Should the construct in which you presently find yourself undergo the process of rapid catastrophic oxidation, many beings will desire to rapidly perambulate to the proximal egress. Abstain from obstructing said egress. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3231/2948930046_18a7be1700.jpg?v=0
The words you privilege in a sentence change perceived meaning. Although our house flooded last year, it is structurally sound, and new carpet was put in. Our house has no structural problems and new carpet—the flooding last year caused no real damage.
When confronting what appears to be a sentence or paragraph in need of help, ask yourself the following questions: • Does the idea seem important? • Does the main idea come across? • Does the writer project competence? • Does the style fit the audience? • Does the style fit the purpose? • Does the style fit the occasion?
Style changes based on audience and purpose. The case of the Flesh Eating Bees
As language moves across audiences, different stylistic considerations are made. Originally presented in Science Presented in Science82 Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: the rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication: 15.3, pp. 335
Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: the rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication: 15.3, pp. 335
Take a look at another example: Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: the rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication: 15.3, pp. 337-338.
The same passage modified for a lay audience: Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: the rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication: 15.3, pp. 338.
What is happening here is an accommodation for lay readers. Hedging Core Concept Qualifications Levels of uncertainty
Let’s revisit text from the accommodated article: Fahnestock, J. (1986). Accommodating science: the rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication: 15.3, pp. 338.
Removing even more qualifications, we could expect to see something like the following: I'll bet you haven't heard of the fleshing eating bees of Turkey. They are absolutely the worst flesh eating bees on the planet, and what's more, they are relentless. They show no mercy and won't go away until the only thing left is bare bones. I've seen these guys in action. Once they start their feeding frenzy, there is nothing you can do to dissuade them. These flying piranhas keep eating until there's no flesh left. http://www.maxingout.com/captainslogarchive45.htm
I was glad that I was not a lamb chop or I would have been history. Those flesh eaters would have stripped me clean. http://www.maxingout.com/captainslogarchive45.htm
Editing for clarity: • Place the main idea of the sentence in the structural core • Use subordinate structures for subordinate ideas • Use parallel structure for parallel items • Place the subject and verb near the beginning of the sentence • Adjust sentence length to increase readability • Use people as agents where ever possible • Use positive constructions where possible
At the end of the day, however, pay attention to audience! http://dakiniland.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/elderly20ladies.jpg http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~kang/child%20pictures/children-jump.jpg http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Oq6pBpj7GxM/SkmB5PERYTI/AAAAAAAAAKY/NS1VZjpU57w/s400/scientist-test-tube.jpg http://www.yesmagazine.org/images/issues/101/49YoungFarmers_04.jpg
“Myotoniais the condition that causes Fainting goats to stiffen and/or fall over when startled. This condition is caused by a combination of recessive genes. Fainting goats can show varying degrees of Myotonia. When startled some will fall to the ground with their entire bodies perfectly stiff and rigid. Others will only stiffen in their limbs and not fall to the ground.” Rewrite the core concepts of this paragraph to account for the following situations: Humorous: Writer wants to get a laugh out of the audience. Academic: Writer needs to sound very professional and academic-y Disapproving: Writer thinks that raising fainting goats is cruel Patronizing: Writer wants audience to know s/he is better than them Technical: Writer needs to just communicate the facts http://www.freewebs.com/faintinghills/faintinggoathistory.htm
What sorts of audiences are you writing for now? When editing each other’s work, what stylistic considerations will you need to look for?