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  1. #1
    S.T. is offline Newbie
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    Default Need Suggestions on Style

    I'm writing a mini-review of a book on English Dialects by Walter Skeat. I'd appreciate suggestions on what improvements could be made to the opening paragraph:

    "In this masterpiece of philology, scholarly yet accessible, Walter Skeat (1835-1912) provides a biographical sketch of regional English. He traces the fascinating story of each dialect from early medieval times to the twentieth century, explaining how they were gradually shaped by local factors such as phonetic decay, together with foreign influences such as Danish, introduced through Viking invasions, and later Norman French, introduced following the Conquest of 1066."
    Does the second sentence sound too crowded or imbalanced? If so I could just get rid of the extra information about Danish and French, like this:


    "... He traces the fascinating story of each dialect from early medieval times to the twentieth century, explaining how local factors such as phonetic decay, and foreign influences such as Danish and later Norman French, helped to shape them."
    But I'd prefer to incorporate it if possible.

    Thanks in advance!

    Sam

  2. #2
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    I am not sure of "a biographical sketch" in the singular when it is followed by "regional English" when there are surely many such regions. Also, if you like his book, and want to give it a warm review, I would suggest more understated praise, or it looks as if you're his grandson and own the copyright.

    ;)

  3. #3
    S.T. is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    Thanks for the tips.

    I probably could have been less effusive, as you say, even if it is a terrific little book. What about deleting "fascinating" from the second sentence, or does the "masterpiece of philology" bit look over-enthusiastic as well?

  4. #4
    S.T. is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    I should have said that it's supposed to be a blurb, rather than just a short review.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    Try just saying what it's about, what its approach is, then near the end of your paragraph say it's superb.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    Quote Originally Posted by S.T. View Post
    He traces the fascinating story of each dialect from early medieval times to the twentieth century, explaining how they were gradually shaped by local factors such as phonetic decay, together with foreign influences such as Danish, introduced through Viking invasions, and later Norman French, introduced following the Conquest of 1066."

    Does the second sentence sound too crowded or imbalanced? If so I could just get rid of the extra information about Danish and French, like this:

    "... He traces the fascinating story of each dialect from early medieval times to the twentieth century, explaining how local factors such as phonetic decay, and foreign influences such as Danish and later Norman French, helped to shape them."
    Hi Sam,
    In my opinion, that sentence is too long. You're trying to throw in too many details -- let the READER discover the way the Vikings and Normans influenced the language. My suggestion would be to eliminate the reference to Danish and French, and instead refer to the Vikings and the Norman conquest. Let the reader find out that it's through the introduction of Danish and French.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. #7
    S.T. is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    Yeah, I think I'll do some rephrasing.

    In my opinion, that sentence is too long. You're trying to throw in too many details -- let the READER discover the way the Vikings and Normans influenced the language. My suggestion would be to eliminate the reference to Danish and French, and instead refer to the Vikings and the Norman conquest. Let the reader find out that it's through the introduction of Danish and French.

    Excellent idea.

    Thanks,
    Sam

  8. #8
    CatFive is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Need Suggestions on Style

    I am NOT A TEACHER...

    ... but I play one on the internet LOL.


    "In this masterpiece of philology, scholarly yet accessible, Walter Skeat (1835-1912) provides a biographical sketch of regional English. He traces the fascinating story of each dialect from early medieval times to the twentieth century, explaining how they were gradually shaped by local factors such as phonetic decay, together with foreign influences such as Danish, introduced through Viking invasions, and later Norman French, introduced following the Conquest of 1066."

    1. What is scholarly yet accessible, the masterpiece or Walter Skeat?

    2. I have a hard time applying the term "Biographical sketch" to "regional English." I understand Biographical sketch to mean "a very basic summarized biography." I am not sure if a biography could be about regional English. Moreover, the book itself doesn't sound like it would qualify as a "sketch."

    "In this masterpiece of philology, Walter Skeat (1835-1912) provides a scholarly yet accessible chronology of regional English. He traces the intriguing story of each dialect from medieval times to the twentieth century. From the Vikings to the Norman French, he explains how factors such as phonetic decay and foreign influences gradually shaped provincial dialects."

    PS - I learned a new word: philology. =)

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