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    #1

    Nouns more formal than verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) The teacher has already given us an excellent answer.

    (2) I only wish to give you an example of an elegant "thank you" that you

    may wish to consider.

    (3) Many years ago, two English brothers wrote a book on "good" English called

    The King's English. Today some people say that the book is too old (1906) to be

    useful; others disagree.

    (4) In their preface, they write these words:

    The especial thanks of the compilers are offered to Dr Bradley, joint editor

    of the Oxford English Dictionary, who has been good enough to inspect the

    proof-sheets, and whose many valuable suggestions have led to the removal

    of some too unqualified statements, some confused exposition, and some

    positive mistakes.

    (5) Of course, I do not know what you wish to thank people for, but the Fowler

    brothers' words show us that you might consider being specific. That is, let your

    correspondents know exactly how they helped you.

    (6) By the way, the Fowler brothers' use of "especial" is old-fashioned, but it

    is still elegant and accurate. (That is, Dr. Bradley deserves thanks that are more

    than the usual thanks.) Since the Fowler brothers were English gentlemen, they did

    not use the period after Dr.

    (7) Also notice their wording of "The especial thanks of the compilers [the authors]

    are offered to Dr Bradley." I think that writing teachers nowadays recommend that

    we use more direct language: We wish to extend especial thanks to Dr. Bradley,

    who ....

    (a) Nevertheless, some people still like the more formal, indirect approach used by the

    Fowler brothers. You might consider this approach, for I have heard that the

    Japanese language appreciates this indirect and more modest way of expression.
    I heard that the usage of nouns instead of verbs shows a more formal register, like:
    She was very sad when he went away ---> She showed great sorrow at his departure.
    Do you have any comments about this?

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    #2

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondsmith View Post
    I heard that the usage of nouns instead of verbs shows a more formal register, like:
    She was very sad when he went away ---> She showed great sorrow at his departure.
    Do you have any comments about this?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) I am not qualified to answer your excellent question.

    (2) Hopefully, a teacher will answer you.

    (a) If not, you might start a new thread with your most intriguing question. I, too,

    woud like to know the answer.

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    #3

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondsmith View Post
    I heard that the usage of nouns instead of verbs shows a more formal register, like:
    She was very sad when he went away ---> She showed great sorrow at his departure.
    Do you have any comments about this?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) I have found some information that may interest you.

    (2) In The King's English (remember that it was published in 1906), the Fowler

    brothers gave these examples:

    (a) An elementary condition of a sound discussion is a frank recognition of the gulf severing two sets of facts. (This came from The Times -- which, in those days, was the newspaper of the elite class.) The Fowler brothers say such a sentence is too abstract because of all the nouns. They want something more concrete, such as:

    There can be no sound discussion where the gulf severing two sets of facts is not frankly recognized.

    (b) There seems to have been an absence of attempt at conciliation between rival sects. The brothers suggest: The sects seem never to have tried mutual conciliation.

    (3) And I found this in On Writing Well (1985) by William Zinsser. Published by Harper & Row:

    Nouns that express a concept are commonly used in bad writing [my emphasis] instead of verbs that tell what somebody did. Mr. Zinsser gives these examples:

    The common reaction is incredulous laughter. (He suggests: Most people just laugh with disbelief.)

    The current campus hostility is a symptom of the change. (He suggests: It's easy to notice the change -- you can see how angry all the students are.)

    *****

    (3) I think that many Americans forget that in some cultures, people prefer more

    formal language.So if you want to say "She showed great sorrow at his departure,"

    I personally agree that it is more elegant than the rather common "She was very

    sad when he went away." You should write in a style that pleases you -- not in a

    style that pleases others. Nevertheless, kindly remember that if you attend a

    university here in the States, I imagine that most writing instructors would advise

    you to use verbs. Americans pride themselves on being very direct. In other words:

    Get to the point!

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    #4

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    I imagine that most writing instructors would advise
    you to use verbs. Americans pride themselves on being very direct. In other words:
    Get to the point!
    Thank you for your opinion. Students are indeed often encouraged to use active voice rather than passive voice and so on. But we do find in reality that there are still different registers in language usages. You just can't be too 'direct' on many occasions. Therefore, you still find that people prefer using passive voice to sound formal or to avoid mentioning the agent of the main verb. Do you agree?

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    #5

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    I've split off the questions about the new subject to be a new thread. Please do start new threads when new questions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondsmith View Post
    Therefore, you still find that people prefer using passive voice to sound formal or to avoid mentioning the agent of the main verb. Do you agree?

    1. I agree they used the passive in an attempt to sound formal. I do NOT agree that they succeed in their goal. Using the passive because you think it sounds more formal is a BAD reason to use the passive.

    2. I agree that you SHOULD use the passive when you want to avoid mentioning the agent. That is one of the right reasons to use the passive.

    Please, please do not write in the passive because you think it makes you sound more scholarly. You can change the register with a change in word choice. She was bereft, she was dismayed, she was inconsolable -- all active, and all more "lofty" words than "she was sad".
    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.

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    #6

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Please, please do not write in the passive because you think it makes you sound more scholarly. You can change the register with a change in word choice. She was bereft, she was dismayed, she was inconsolable -- all active, and all more "lofty" words than "she was sad".
    I agree. But I also found that some scholars seem to use "lofty" Latin words like per se, albeit, etc, very often. What are your comments about this?

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondsmith View Post
    I agree. But I also found that some scholars seem to use "lofty" Latin words like per se, albeit, etc, very often. What are your comments about this?
    It's normal in academia.

    PS: Did you notice Barb's hint about new threads for a new topic?

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    #8

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondsmith View Post
    I agree. But I also found that some scholars seem to use "lofty" Latin words like per se, albeit, etc, very often. What are your comments about this?
    I would not call them 'lofty' or 'scholarly' words.

    Other examples - en bloc, inter alia, et al, et cetera, fait accompli, caveat emptor

    You use them when they are no other better words in English to describe a situation.

    not a teacher

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    #9

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by tedtmc View Post
    You use them when they are no other better words in English to describe a situation.
    not a teacher
    But there are lots of substitutes in English for these words. The users must have their intensions when using these Latin words.

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    #10

    Re: How to acknowledge help from other people?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondsmith View Post
    But there are lots of substitutes in English for these words. The users must have their intensions when using these Latin words.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) The other posters have given you excellent advice.

    (2) I can well understand your feelings about the passive and foreign words, etc.

    (3) I think that some cultures prefer not to be too direct. For example, I have heard

    that in your beautiful country, people dislike saying "No" to anyone and that they

    will try to express the "No" in some other and more polite manner.

    (4) I think that you should write in any way that pleases you. If you wish to use

    the passive, do so. If you wish to pepper your writing with foreign words and phrases,

    then you should do so. Of course, you will have to pay the price. If you are writing

    a book, probably that kind of writing will not attract many readers.

    (a) One of my favorite books is about the newspapers and politics in 19th century

    England. It is the book on the subject. But it will never find a wide audience, for it

    is full of "big" words on every page (I have to run to my dictionary constantly) and

    plenty of foreign phrases. It really "turns readers off." But it was written for an

    academic audience, not for ordinary people like me. He wanted to impress a certain

    class of scholars -- and he certainly did!

    (5) Maybe the "secret" is: know your audience. Then you can decide how "formal"

    you want your writing to be for that particular audience.

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