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  1. #1
    sabyakgp is offline Newbie
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    A few reservations about the syntax of the sentences written by a Master.

    Dear Friends,

    I held a few reservations over the validity of the syntax of the excerpt given below.


    Foot passengers, (subject:Foot passengers)jostling one anotherís umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), (subject: other foot passengers) adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, (subject: mud) sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
    (From Bleak House, Dickens)

    In the above sentence, I couldn't discern the main clause. There are a few -ing subordiate clause such as, jostling one anotherís umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners , and
    adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud,
    and sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

    But the the Noun phrase 'Foot passengers' does not seem to have any verb or complement.

    One more such excerpt from the same book.

    Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little íprentice boy on deck.

    I can understand that 'Fog up the river,(a verbless clause) where it flows among green aits and meadows(main clause);' But where is the main clause for 'Fog everywhere.'

    and in:

    Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. which seems to be a few -ing subordinate clauses standing without any main clause.

    and in:

    Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards;

    Could somebody please explain the style of the syntax?

    Regards,
    Sabya

  2. #2
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    Re: A few reservations about the syntax of the sentences written by a Master.

    Dickens is painting a picture in words. If he began the passage with "As I look, I see..."
    ...yes, it might make more syntactic sense.
    Instead, Dickens not only paints the picture, but in words that swirl without the usual syntactic containment in definite sentences...just like fog swirls all around us, unpalpable, seemingly never ending.

    He then grounds the four or so opening paragraphs when he writes:
    The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.

    WOW. Now that's a wordsmith!
    Last edited by David L.; 15-Apr-2009 at 13:01.

  3. #3
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    Re: A few reservations about the syntax of the sentences written by a Master.

    Hi sabyakgp

    Ellipsis:

    Foot passengers [are/were] jostling one anotherís umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and [they are/were] losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), [;they are/were] adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, [which are/were] sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
    Fog [is] everywhere. Fog [is] up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog [is] down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog [is] on the Essex marshes, fog [is] on the Kentish heights. Fog [is] creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; ... .

  4. #4
    sabyakgp is offline Newbie
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    Re: A few reservations about the syntax of the sentences written by a Master.

    Thanks a lot for your instructive thoughts. According to Soup, these sentences are elliptical in nature as the verb/ and subject can be easily recovered.

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    Re: A few reservations about the syntax of the sentences written by a Master.

    Your absolutely right. While I was off 'waxing about the lyrical' of Dicken's writing, Soup got down to the nitty-gritty of how he did it!

  6. #6
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    Re: A few reservations about the syntax of the sentences written by a Master.

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Your absolutely right. While I was off 'waxing about the lyrical' of Dicken's writing, Soup got down to the nitty-gritty of how he did it!
    Ah, but I rather enjoyed reading your post.

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