Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Art of Being Clear

The Art of Being Clear

We planned to construct a dumbwaiter in the new house we are building. The idea of getting coffee, tea, and snacks up to our second floor office with-out spilling all over ourselves on the stairs was appealing.

But it took a lot of room and interfered with the ductwork, and the only good place for it was the wrong sanity returned and we ditched the whole idea.

In the meantime, we were laughing with the stone mason about how he could be a dumbwaiter specialist. The conversation quickly deteriorated to "dumb waiterspecialist" and the whole burlesque act reminded me of the importance of syntax.

Since syntax (the arrangement of words in a sentence) is one of the major ways we decipher meaning in English, proper syntax should govern the placement of modifiers so the right words are grouped in a sentence the way we intend.

The basic idea is simple: adjectives and adverbs go as close to the words they are supposed to modify as possible. This way we will connect those modifiers with the right words.

Of course, there is a little more to it than that, and below we go into the mechanics in more detail. As you will see, there are ways even a simple idea can go comically wrong.

For more, go to Moore Partners Scribbles


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