Azhong's Writing Practice.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-01-29, 14:53

Every morning these days after I wake, the first thing I do, a serious thing I mean, is to write a small passage in English as my daily practice. I pick from Harry Potter 7, my language textbook, a few vocabulary and phrases I have learned and compose them into a paragraph with a small plot, borrowed from the novel or imagined by myself. My passages for now are still imperfect but, by merely repeatedly using the expressions cut from the novel, I can yet gain without receiving any corrections. No doubt it's time and energy-consuming to emend a passage, thus I have been desiring to seek improvements. I am glad to finally find a suitable self-learning method, by which I can eschew my total reliance on your assistance, no more bothering you quite as much as I did for quite a long time, for which I sincerely thank you.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-01-30, 5:26

Your apple tree needs to get pruned, cutting away the dead and overgrowing branches and stems, then it will become more fruitful in the coming year. And do you see that? It's a canker, a destructive fungal disease, which will result in damage to the bark, then threaten the health of the whole tree. It needs to be trimmed, too.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-01-30, 5:46

azhong wrote:Voldemort's eyes fastened, with an intensity seemingly capable of get something scorched, upon Harry Potter's, who calmly looked back, his smile showing his bravery. The frozen, tense situation lasted, their wands directed at each other's chest; a duel was about to start. The watchers around stiffened, all apprehensive and breathless by his or her expression, but palpably divided into two alliances by their positions, with opposite expectations at the result.


all apprehensive and breathless by his or her expression: all appearing apprehensive and breathless
Actually, it would sound better to shorten it and say simply: The watchers around stiffened, apprehensive and breathless, palpably divided into two alliances by their positions,
I do have to say that although I can't find anything wrong with it, "palpably divided into two alliances by their positions" sounds unnatural to me. It's quite formal, but I can't really imagine anyone really saying it that way. But we've discussed this before: using Harry Potter as a model is going to lead to that type of style and I think it's what you are trying for.

azhong wrote:Your apple tree needs to get pruned, cutting away the dead and overgrowing branches and stems, then it will become more fruitful in the coming year. And do you see that? It's a canker, a destructive fungal disease, which will result in damage to the bark, then threaten the health of the whole tree. It needs to be trimmed, too.


better: ...the dead and overgrown branches and stems
Otherwise this one is very good.


azhong wrote:Every morning these days after I wake, the first thing I do, a serious thing I mean, is to write a small passage in English as my daily practice. I pick from Harry Potter 7, my language textbook, a few vocabulary and phrases I have learned and compose them into a paragraph with a small plot, borrowed from the novel or imagined by myself. My passages for now are still imperfect but, by merely repeatedly using the expressions cut from the novel, I can yet gain without receiving any corrections. No doubt it's time and energy-consuming to emend a passage, thus I have been desiring to seek improvements. I am glad to finally find a suitable self-learning method, by which I can eschew my total reliance on your assistance, no more bothering you quite as much as I did for quite a long time, for which I sincerely thank you.

I'm glad to hear this, and if you wanted comments on the writing of this paragraph, it's good. I am happy to offer corrections in general but am not really able to do it daily, at least at this time. Actually, part of the problem is the time difference between Taiwan and (for me) the US. It may be the first thing you do after you wake up, but for me, your posts often come in late in the evening. I often don't have time to respond to them then. Many of your posts come in at what is for me about 9:30pm, like today's. Recently you've posted earlier in the day but this week I simply haven't had much time. Anyway, I'm not asking you to change that; of course, I can read your posts the next day at whatever time I like. This is just my long way of saying that I will keep giving you feedback for some posts, but probably not every day!

Also: I think your "self-learning method" is effective. I also think you've made corrections to your own posts, haven't you? I did read some of your posts earlier in the week and at that time thought that there was a lot to correct, and now that I look at them again, they don't need much correction. Maybe I was just too tired when I read them the first time :mrgreen: , or now, but I'm guessing that you went back and made some changes after I read some of them.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-01-30, 9:43

Hi Linguaphile:

I am so glad to hear from you again. How have you been doing?

It's true I have been told at times these late weeks that my sentence is unnatural although grammatical. I think what I can do is to read more.

Before you appeared to provide your help, my writing was naturally worse, and those who had friendly assisted me might have suffered a lot, I guess. As far as I can remember, linguoboy and Dormouse visited my thread very often, whom I highly appreciate, too. I really have received a lot of help here from many Unilangers. And if anyone among you needs any help that I can possibly provide, please always feel free to ask.

Please don't see it as your duty to give me comments, which is exactly my point in that post. I am learning to walk by myself; when available you can go help other newbies.

I do correct my passages after I've posted them, which I do very often, by doing so I've found I can gain more. And the phrase "palpably divided into two alliances by their positions" had nothing to do at all with Ms. Rowlings; it was my product. Haha. I think I should be awarded for being good at blending her elegant style with my twisted. Haha. Take care.

Sincerely,

Zhong from Taiwan

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-01-30, 19:30

I can definitely see improvement in your English. Also, I want to make a suggestion. To be honest I haven't read a lot of the Harry Potter series; actually I've read three of the books, but it was quite a long time ago and two of them I read in Spanish (just like you - I wanted to improve my language skills while at the same time reading something that would be interesting). So I've only read one in English. But anyway, one of the points of the Harry Potter books is that the characters live in a sort of "different world" within our own world, that has its own rules and circumstances. One of the ways the author shows that, if I remember correctly, is by using language that is grammatically correct but a bit different from the way we normally speak. It sometimes sounds very formal, sometimes sounds a bit archaic. It is never incorrect and it is always understandable, but often it doesn't sound natural in the sense of what we would expect to encounter in our everyday lives. For the Harry Potter series, that is deliberate: I think the author wants to remind the reader, through the way she uses language, that these characters do not live in the same sort of world we live in.
Again it's been a while since I've read the books, and I read two of them in translation, so I could be wrong about this, but I think the examples you have posted do back it up. If you rely on Harry Potter books and become very good at it (and you are on your way there now), you will also become "never incorrect and always understandable, but not natural" in your language use.
Some, or most, of the unnaturalness in your language use right now is of course because it is your second language, and not because of the "Harry Potter" influence. But I just want you to be aware that if you focus so much on Harry Potter, some of that "unnaturalness" may never go away.
So my suggestion is: use other models too. I'm not telling you to stop using Harry Potter, but add more variety. One thing I've found when I'm studying a language, is that when I start reading something from a different author, I encounter not just new vocabulary but new grammatical patterns. (This is especially true with Spanish, because it is spoken in many different countries and each country has its own regional vocabulary and language use. But the same is true of English: it is spoken in many parts of the world.) The new vocab and grammatical patterns that I encounter from a new author may not be "new" to me, but the repeated use of them that I see in a work by a different author adds something to my language repertoire that wasn't there before. By the time I finish a book, those language patterns have become quite familiar and have become part of my own language use if they weren't before. Then I move on to a different author, maybe from a different region or a completely different subject matter, and this process starts over again. By doing this I add many different styles and a variety of vocabulary to my mental set of "what sounds familiar or natural to me" in a language, and this is the mental set that I draw from when I speak or write.
It seems you are doing this very deliberately by using what you've read as a very direct model for your own writing practice. For me, this process has been much more subconscious. When I speak or write I don't think of any particular sentence from what I've read, but something I write or say may "sound right" to me because it is similar to something I once read before. I wouldn't be able to tell you when or where I heard any particular sentence construction, but because I've encountered it repeatedly, it has gotten to that place where it simply "sounds right" to me.
I think you've already read a variety of texts and used a variety of models in the past, but I think it is important for you to continue doing this. Otherwise you will end up speaking fluent "Harry Potter English", entirely understandable and grammatically correct, but sounding as though you have graduated from Hogwarts yourself. :mrgreen:

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-01-31, 0:48

Thank you, Linguaphile, it's really precious that you have carefully explained the language style of the Harry Potter series. I will change another model after finishing chapter 1; I have been almost finishing it. I did mistake those sentence structures I've learned from the novel for a perfect writing style although odd in oral usage.

The reason I stick to the sentence pattern I have read when making practices is to memorize it, so as to get rid of my Chinese-style English. Before doing so, I used to translate directly from my Chinese expressions; it is, however, quite reliant on the help of native speakers. I hope I can sense more about writing naturally in the future through comparing the style of my next model with that of Harry Potter 7.

I do have really gained something natural from my reading this time, maybe not much but it's a new experience to me because I used to soon forget everything I read. I am more confident in my writing now. Slowing down, repeating again and again,
and soaking in those expressions till I can memorize them, that's a tip I've learned this time by reading the Harry Potter chapter. I know I still have a long way to go, but this is an interesting game to me.

Thank you again, Linguaphile, for your remindings. It's perhaps nothing to you but quite a big information to me, a foreigner. And now I've remembered I have been told similar remindings by several Unilangers before but I didn't totally understand. Also, when reading your reply, I have been capable of sensing some difference in your style not only compared with Ms. Rowling's, which is naturally obvious, seeminly but also with linguoboy's, which I can't clearly point out and then duplicate, though.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-01-31, 5:44

An inquiry please, with my thanks in advance.
The sentence S1 below changes the subject in its modifier from "they" to "their wands". This is a writing style I've learned from the Harry Potter chapter. Is it very archaic thus odd? Is there something I should know for applying it in my writing? Is there any specific reason that Ms. Rowlings can not choose S2, which sounds obviously clearer? Or, what effects has the special structure created?

S1) For a second they stood quite still, their wands directed at each other.

S2) For a second they stood quite still, directing their wands at each other.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby linguoboy » 2021-01-31, 11:40

azhong wrote:The sentence S1 below changes the subject in its modifier from "they" to "their wands". This is a writing style I've learned from the Harry Potter chapter. Is it very archaic thus odd? Is there something I should know for applying it in my writing? Is there any specific reason that Ms. Rowlings can not choose S2, which sounds obviously clearer? Or, what effects has the special structure created?

S1) For a second they stood quite still, their wands directed at each other.

S2) For a second they stood quite still, directing their wands at each other.

I wouldn’t call it “archaic”, but I would call it “literary”. What that means is that it would be odd to hear it spoken aloud but it’s quite common in fiction and nonfiction writing. The effect it has is shifting the focus. In S2 the focus remains on the persons holding the wands; in S1 it’s shifted to the wands themselves. The effect is somewhat similar to that of a closeup in film.
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-01-31, 13:58

How about the sentence below then? In S1, written by Ms. Rowlings, the preposition phrase is moved forward obviously for the relative clause. But is there any possible reason she didn't select S2? Any suggestions for my choosing S1 or S2 when writing?
Thank you in advance.

S1) Charity fell, with a resounding crash, onto the table below, which trembled and creaked.

S2) With a resounding crash, Charity fell onto the table below, which trembled and creaked.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-01-31, 16:52

azhong wrote:I have been almost finishing it.

This should be: I have almost finished it.

azhong wrote:I do have really gained something natural from my reading this time

This should be: I have really gained something

azhong wrote:Thank you again, Linguaphile, for your remindings. It's perhaps nothing to you but quite a big information to me, a foreigner.

This should be: for your reminders
quite (or: very) important information for me
(You could also say "quite big to me," which could mean either that it is very important, or very significant, or very surprising, etc.)
And, you're very welcome! :D

azhong wrote:I have been capable of sensing some difference in your style not only compared with Ms. Rowling's, which is naturally obvious, seeminly but also with linguoboy's, which I can't clearly point out and then duplicate, though.

I agree with this. Linguoboy and I have different styles and even for me it is a bit difficult to "clearly point out" the specifics of those differences. He has a unique writing style. It's not just that we are from different regions; I know other people from Chicago who do not share his style. He tends to use British-style spelling, although he is from the U.S., which makes that unusual. Because of this, when his word usage differs from mine sometimes I tend to assume that it is also British-influenced like his spelling, but I'm not sure whether that is the case.

azhong wrote:Is there any specific reason that Ms. Rowlings can not choose S2, which sounds obviously clearer?

S1) For a second they stood quite still, their wands directed at each other.

S2) For a second they stood quite still, directing their wands at each other.

These are both good sentences, and this type of contructional can be found in any type of writing. As a native speaker, I would not even say that one is any clearer than the other.
I would not expect to find S1 in spoken language except for perhaps a news report or documentary video (both of which tend to use language which is similar to written language). Even S2 sounds rather formal for spoken language (in my own dialect, in spoken language I'd probably say "They stood still for a second and directed their wands at each other").

azhong wrote:How about the sentence below then? In S1, written by Ms. Rowlings, the preposition phrase is moved forward obviously for the relative clause. But is there any possible reason she didn't select S2? Any suggestions for my choosing S1 or S2 when writing?
Thank you in advance.

S1) Charity fell, with a resounding crash, onto the table below, which trembled and creaked.

S2) With a resounding crash, Charity fell onto the table below, which trembled and creaked.

They are both fine, but I would say S2 tends to be more common. The word order used in S1 might be used if the author wants the reader to focus on the details more; a reader will tend to read it a bit more slowly, while S2 flows well and would be read quickly. (In other words, in a scene with a lot of action, a writer might use S2 if they want the reader to read quickly due to the fast action of the scene; a writer might use S1 if they want the reader to read the scene more slowly, more like a slow-motion effect in a movie, if that makes sense. The difference in actual reading speed is nearly imperceptible, but the writing style gives that general effect.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-01, 1:19

Linguaphile wrote:Linguoboy and I have different styles and even for me it is a bit difficult to "clearly point out" the specifics of those differences. He has a unique writing style. It's not just that we are from different regions; I know other people from Chicago who do not share his style. He tends to use British-style spelling, although he is from the U.S., which makes that unusual. Because of this, when his word usage differs from mine sometimes I tend to assume that it is also British-influenced like his spelling, but I'm not sure whether that is the case.

I'm actually not from Chicago. Yes, I've lived here many years, but I was born in Baltimore, Maryland (where my dad's people are from) and I grew up in St Louis Metropolitan Area (which is home to my mother's family). I incorporate elements of both those regional dialects into my own[*].

But that's only one factor. I suspect there may be something of an age difference between us, too. In any case, there are a number of words and constructions that are recessive in contemporary speech but which I still favour. (One example would be counterfactuals of the form "Had I known..." which I find much more elegant than current equivalents like "If I had known" or "If I knew...".) I may have picked up some Britannicisms over the years but other idiosyncrasies are adopted from writers I've read or are due to the influence of other languages I speak (e.g. differentiating "yesterday evening" and "last night" on the model of German gestern Abend and letzte Nacht). Since you and I read different authors and speak different languages other than English, it's to be expected that the usages we've adopted as a result would be different.

[*] Incidentally, I took a dialect quiz that was published in the New York Times some years ago and so confused the algorithm that it placed me in North Carolina, a state I think I've ridden through once or twice? In Germany, I was asked by a Canadian why I had an Ottawa accent and in the USA I've been asked what European country I come from. So I guess what my accent says to most people is "not here".
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-02-01, 3:20

It's very fresh to hear linguoboy say something personal, for the first time to me; he might ever mention himself in some other subforums I've never visited, though. ln addition to his profession in linguistics, his frequent help to newbies and his smartness shown from his posts, I am barely certain that linguoboy is no longer a young person at his twenty-something. I've met him here more than ten years ago when he had experienced one of his jobs, teaching (English, I guess?) for a period (more than a year, my guess again) abroad in German.

As one of his students here, and with the language gap between us, I feel from his expressions that linguoboy is somewhat serious and 嚴謹的(a positive adjective, perhaps "strict" or "rigorous"?). His replies are concise but informative, his sentences, either hard or powerful, and his words, rarely humourous and warm. I've never seen him using any expression symbols or smilies. Nor have I seen he, to whichever inquirer, decorates his reply with any encouragement or praise. Instead, he offers them his professional opinions, clearly always, sometimes attaching a website for their further reading, to get them dog-tired, over and over, then they make their progress imperceptibly over time under his severe tortures.

Or perhaps my such impression comes not only from his difficult diction; in his dense discussions with other Unilangers as well, I sometimes sense a burst of heat of which the temperature is higher than being called warm. Linguoboy is very self-confident in his profession, I think.

The post from him, however, has given me a bright-new scene, where linguoboy performs not barely a rational language expert. I've sensed something humourous and soft between the lines. It is natural, however, that he had no need, nor any chance, to share with me his past or any emotion during our interactions when he stood as my language helper.

At any rate, I highly value linguoboy for his long-term devotion here in Unilang, which I've been witnessing and benefiting from. Without him, without my most progress. And I believe many foreigners seeking help here in the past or present will also say something similar.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-01, 16:27

Thanks, I guess? :P

I feel like we're all highly-motivated adults here. This is not a forum you easily stumble across by chance and it's clear from the start that the folks here are serious about their language learning. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from learning languages, but I really don't see my role as handholding. In that respect, and I really any different from Linguaphile or dormouse or some of the other frequent posters?
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-02-02, 4:32

(Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

The clock had just struck twelve. John had been sitting before his desk reading, his massive bottom drooping over both sides of the chair, when a loud crash suddenly sounded, he startled, and at once his neighbor's dog snarling. Seemingly something heavy had fallen, not far in front of his house. He slowly stood up and limped toward the window, where he gazed into the gloom outside, seeking the source of the bang.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-02-02, 4:57

azhong wrote:(Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

The clock had just struck twelve. John had been sitting before his desk reading, his massive bottom drooping over both sides of the chair, when a loud crash suddenly sounded, he startled, and at once his neighbor's dog snarling. Seemingly something heavy had fallen, not far in front of his house. He slowly stood up and limped toward the window, where he gazed into the gloom outside, seeking the source of the bang.


This is pretty good. "Snarling" should be "snarled". I think that sentence is also so long that it starts to be a bit awkward, and might sound better as two sentences:

John had been sitting before (or: at) his desk reading, his massive bottom drooping over both sides of the chair, when a loud crash suddenly sounded. He startled, and at once his neighbor's dog snarled.

But that's just a matter of personal preference.
Also (again as a personal preference), I tend to use the word "started" in this context and use "startled" as a transitive verb ("the sound startled him"... "he was startled"... etc.) But your usage is also correct; both "start" and "startle" can mean "to move suddenly; to be startled".

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-02-03, 3:46

(Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

"How can the Harry Potter series suit children if Ms. Rowling's writing style is always so archaic?"
By asking so to myself, which rose after having received Linguaphile's explanation, an instinct emerged then: I must have stumbled upon a wrong chapter. The chapter I'm entering, chapter one of book 2, supports my guess; it is different obviously. The diction turns simpler. For example, when describing a crash, she wrote "the table trembled" in that chapter but "shook the kitchen" in this; and for another instance, "to thump one's fist" there but "to pound one's fist" here. The sentence structures also go smoother, not inserting modifiers into a main clause so often.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-02-03, 4:25

azhong wrote:(Thank you in advance for your assistance.)

"How can the Harry Potter series suit children if Ms. Rowling's writing style is always so archaic?"
By asking so to myself, which rose after having received Linguaphile's explanation, an instinct emerged then: I must have stumbled upon a wrong chapter. The chapter I'm entering, chapter one of book 2, supports my guess; it is different obviously. The diction turns simpler. For example, when describing a crash, she wrote "the table trembled" in that chapter but "shook the kitchen" in this; and for another instance, "to thump one's fist" there but "to pound one's fist" here. The sentence structures also go smoother, not inserting modifiers into a main clause so often.

Remember, it's been a very long time since I read Harry Potter in English, and even then it was only one of the books. I'm really not sure whether "archaic" really does describe the style. I'm doubting that more and more. :D My point was mainly that it is a specific style, whether archaic or something else, and that by copying it your writing will not sound completely natural in other contexts. It works fine for Hogwarts, but perhaps not elsewhere. Combining the style you learn from Harry Potter with styles from other authors will improve your language skills.
Anyway, the reading level of the Harry Potter books is around 5th to 6th grade level (the level a ten-year-old or eleven-year-old can normally read). But, don't mix up "being able to read" something with "being expected to produce the same kind of language". Ten-year-olds aren't.
As a side note, I don't know if this applies to Harry Potter or not, but some children's fairy tales and poems are also written with language they might not fully understand. As a child, I memorized the text of some poems and short books without really knowing what some of the words meant. As a child it simply didn't bother me that I couldn't understand the exact meaning of every word. Another example: children recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school beginning in kindergarten, but often don't really know what they are saying. They may not have any idea what the word "indivisible" means, for example (they might say "invisible" instead), or they might say "for witches dance" in place of "for which it stands". In other words, children don't mind so much when there are words or phrases they don't completely understand. They invent some meaning of their own and keep on reading (or reciting).
Considering that Rowlings invents a lot of words for her novels, when they encounter unfamiliar language children may just think it is invented as well.

I suspect you might be interested in this article: J. K. Rowling's writing style in Harry Potter: A persistent mannerism.
Specifically, this:
It's significant that Trumble singles out participial phrases for special mention. This is possibly Rowling's single most glaring grammatical mannerism, one which might explain why some find her writing unimpressive and pedestrian. Once you notice it, it's hard to read a page of Harry Potter quite the same way again.
[...]
For instance:
Colin ignored him, his face shining with excitement.
This combines two sentences: "Colin ignored him. His face was shining (or shone) with excitement."

Another example:
Wood shot towards the ground, landing rather harder than he meant to in his anger, staggering slightly as he dismounted.
(Wood shot towards the ground. Wood landed rather harder than he meant to in his anger. Wood staggered slightly as he dismounted.)
[...]
Rowling uses this construction on page after page, at chapter after chapter, with the cumulative effect of depriving her writing of stylistic variety. The chief appeal of her books perhaps lies less in her style than in her imagination, her magical world, her playful made-up words, and her sharp observations on life and society.

Others would disagree. As John Lawler has pointed out, Rowling has "some terrific examples of how to use participles and gerunds or serial motion verbs... it's one of the things that contributes to the perception of the characters in the story as being alive and in motion".

Love it or hate it, the heavy use of the present participle is certainly one of the hallmarks of Rowling's style.

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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-02-03, 5:08

Colin ignored him, his face shining with excitement.

Wood shot towards the ground, landing rather harder than he meant to in his anger, staggering slightly as he dismounted.

Yes, I did catch such construction, and am trying to imitate it. I have written a sentence you've emended, where I did intend to use startle as a transitive verb:

The crash sounded, he startled, and the dog snarling.
(The crash sounded. He was startled. The dog snarled.)

Below is another sentence of mine:
Congratulations for coming back, again we jubilantly single together.
(Congratulations for coming back. Again we are jubilantly single together.)

Do my sentences imitate Ms. Rowling's correctly or not? And, are you telling me the construction is unusual even to native speakers? I suppose them just modifiers. What's the difference between this construction and that with modifiers?

And by the way, my latest post was not to debate with you; it's true the writing style in chapter one, book 7 is very -- how will you say, literary or archaic? -- no matter in sentence construction or in diction. Anyhow, I am just doing my daily writing practice. The one I wrote about my impression on linguoboy is also the same, mainly just a writing practice.

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azhong
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Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby azhong » 2021-02-03, 5:21

And I have another inquiry please: which one is better, the Simple tense or the perfect tense? Any simple rule? I am often confused.

Your post has inspired me.
Your post inspired me.

I have heard your breaking-up.
I heard your breaking-up.

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Linguaphile
Posts: 3290
Joined: 2016-09-17, 5:06

Re: Azhong's Writing Practice.

Postby Linguaphile » 2021-02-03, 5:31

azhong wrote:
Colin ignored him, his face shining with excitement.

Wood shot towards the ground, landing rather harder than he meant to in his anger, staggering slightly as he dismounted.

Yes, I did catch such construction, and am trying to imitate it.

Yes, that is exactly why I thought you might be interested in the article: because I know that you have been trying to imitate it.

azhong wrote:Do my sentences imitate Ms. Rowling's correctly or not? And, are you telling me the construction is unusual even to native speakers?

Yes, your sentences do imitate it. No, when used occasionally in writing it is not "unusual even to native speakers". It is just that Rowling uses it more often than other writers, so much so that it is a noticeable and recognizable feature of her writing style when compared to other writers (which some people like and others do not like, it seems). I guess I would say that it is a construction that is good to know, but one which you might not want to over-use.

azhong wrote:And I have another inquiry please: which one is better, the Simple tense or the perfect tense? Any simple rule? I am often confused.

Your post has inspired me.
Your post inspired me.

They are both fine, and often used interchangeably, even though they can have slightly different meanings.
The first one is present perfect tense and generally means that the action began in the past and still continues in the present. (Another use of present perfect is to put the focus on what happened, rather than on when or how many times it happened.)
The second one is in the past tense, so it is something which happened (and most likely already concluded) in the past.

Here's another way to look at the difference:
"Your post has inspired me to read another book." - maybe you have started reading another book, maybe you aren't reading it yet; maybe you'll read another book later, after you finish the one you're reading now, for example.

"Your post inspired me to read another book." - this sounds like you have already read the other book, or at least you have started reading it. "Reading the other book" has already happened.

But when you write it as you did above, without mentioning what the post might have inspired you to think or do, the meanings of the two sentences seem basically the same to me.

azhong wrote:I have heard your breaking-up.
I heard your breaking-up.

These aren't right. Maybe this is what you want to say:
I have heard you're breaking up.
I heard you're breaking up.

I'd like to come back to this one for a moment:
azhong wrote:The crash sounded, he startled, and the dog snarling.
(The crash sounded. He was startled. The dog snarled.)


When you use the present participle (-ing) constructions like this, you shouldn't have "and" before it. This is why I earlier changed your "snarling" to "snarled".
You can say it like this:
The crash sounded, he startled, and the dog snarled.

Or if you really want to use a present participle, then this:
The crash sounded, he startled, the dog snarling.
or:
The crash sounded and he startled, the dog snarling.

You can put "and" between the two past tense actions (for reasons I can't really explain, it sounds better to me that way), but not between the past tense and the present participle.


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