Published on June 17, 2007
PROSE STYLES:TOUGH, SWEET AND STUFFY: PROSE STYLES: TOUGH, SWEET AND STUFFY by Don L. F. Nilsen Slide2: POINT OF VIEW: THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK: ETHOS PATHOS LOGOS TOUGH SWEET STUFFY 1ST PERSON 2ND PERSON 3RD PERSON SUBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE INFORMAL INTIMATE FORMAL TOUGH LANGUAGE: TOUGH LANGUAGE Tough language is the rhetoric of Frederic Henry in Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms: 'In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the pain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels.' Slide4: It is the language of intimacy, the language of no pretentions. The words are simple and the grammar is simple. The writing is not planned, but just happens, in a stream of consciousness kind of way—you are there. The sentences are short and choppy. If there is conjunction it is coordination, not subordination. It is the language of the loosened tie and the rolled up shirt sleeves, with no pretentious multi-syllable or low-frequency words. Slide5: Being egocentric, it is subjective, and whether it is written fro mthe author participant or the author omniscient point of view, it is concerned with communicating people’s innermost feelings. Tough language is the language of fiction, and therefore the process of 'in medias res' is totally appropriate to this style—'In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountain. SWEET LANGUAGE: SWEET LANGUAGE Sweet language is the language of advertisors. Walker Gibson calls this language AROMA (Advertising Rhetoric of Madison Avenue). Sweet language is listener-oriented in an attempt to seduce listeners into buying products they don’t want or need. Slide7: It is language full of innovative spellings, creative grammar, and wild punctuation. Sweet writing contains many sentence fragments, and would rather flaunt a grammatical rule than conform to it: 'Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. What do you want, good grammar, or good taste?' Slide8: Sweet language is the language of sensationalism, the language of superlatives and hyperbole. It is the language of diversion; it plays tricks on the reader with its puns, its word coinages, its humor, its packaging, its sex, and other aspects which have nothing to do with the product itself. It is informatl, or sometimes even intimate or cutesy in tone. Slide9: Contractions, clippings, blendings, and deletions abound, making it all the more cryptic and intimate. It’s full of slang expressions like 'no doubt about it,' 'cut it out,' and 'where else?' It can be cutesy, as in 'Dry skin? Not me, darling. Every inch of little me is as smooth as (well, you know what).' Slide10: Gibson says that a common kind of coinage in sweet language is the noun-adjunct construction (a noun modified by another noun). We see this kind of coinage in 'Speakerphone,' 'Fooderama living,' 'decorator colors,' and 'Supermarket selection.' The Bell Company praises the beauties of its 'hands-free, group-talk, across-the-room telephone. STUFFY LANGUAGE: STUFFY LANGUAGE Where tough language is I-oriented, and sweet language is you-oriented, stuffy language is it-oriented. It is the language of laboratory experiments , of research papers and theses and dissertations and scholarly books, and academia in general. Slide12: Stuffy language is highly grammatical and highly formal. The syntax contains a great deal of subordination, and the sentences are frequently long and complex. Infinitives, gerunds, present and past participial constructions, nominative absolutes, perfect, progressive, and passive constructions are almost totally confined to this style of writing. Slide13: It is an impersonal style to the extent that first-person pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common. Stuffy language is also the language of limitations, restrictions and qualifications because the writer doesn’t want to make claims beyond the evidence. Limiting (as opposed to descriptive) adjectives are frequent, as are prepositional phrases and relative clauses. THE BIRMINGHAM RIOTS:REPORTED IN THREE DIFFERENT STYLES: THE BIRMINGHAM RIOTS: REPORTED IN THREE DIFFERENT STYLES 'The police and firemen drove hundreds of rioting Negroes off the streets today with high pressure hoses and an armored car.' New York Times May 8, 1963 Slide15: 'Three times during the day, waves of shouting, rock-throwing Negroes had poured into the downtown business distric, to be scattered and driven back by battering streams of water from high-pressure hoses and swinging clubs of policement and highway patrolmen.' New York Herald Tribune Slide16: 'The blaze of bombs, the flash of blades, the eerie glow of fire, the keening cries of hatred, the wild dance of terror at night—all this was Birmingham, Alabama.' Time, May 7, 1963 Slide17: SUMMARY OF WORD DEVELOPMENT: THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK: COLLOQUIAL COLLOQUIAL FORMAL SLANG: CHARACTER SLANG: AD NO SLANG DEPENDENT DEPENDENT MODALS GERUNDS INFINITIVES PERFECTS PROGRESSIVES SPELLING = SPELLINGS = SPELLINGS = CHARACTERS CREATIVE CORRECT ANGLO-SAXON ANGLO-SAXON INKHORN TERMS WORDS WORDS GREEK andamp; LATIN Slide18: SUMMARY OF SENTENCE DEVELOPMENT: THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK: SHORT, CHOPPY LONG, COMPLICATED FRAGMENTS PERFECT GRAMMAR COMMA SPLICES SIMPLE SIMPLE LONG andamp; COMPLEX RESTRICTIVE MODIFIER SIMPLE SENTENCES COMPOUND andamp; COMPLEX SENTENCES CASUAL PUNCTUATION PERFECT PUNCTUATION RHETORICAL SENTENCES DON’T QUESTIONS MAKE CLAIMS BEYOND IMPERATIVES EVIDENCE THEY,YOU, Slide19: !SUMMARY OF PARAGRAPH AND DISCOURSE DEVELOPMENT! THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK: STREAM OF CASUAL STRUCTURED CONSCIOUSNESS INDUCTIVE WHATEVER DEDUCTIVE NOTE: THE NEWSPAPER IS SUPER DEDUCTIVE BECAUSE PEOPLE READ HEADLINES; AND MAYBE FIRST PARAGRAPH (WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE, HOW); AND LATER MATERIALS GET BURIED OR CUT MUCH INUENDO INTIMATE andamp; CUTESY CAUSAL AND IMPLICATION Slide20: !!SUMMARY OF USE OF FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK: AUTHOR PARTICIPANT ? AUTHOR AUTHOR OBSERVANT OBSERVANT AUTHOR OMNISCIENT MAINLY TROPES: MAINLY SCHEMES: LITERAL IN MEDIAS RES ALLITERATION METAPHOR ASSONANCE IRONY RHYME POETIC JUSTICE CUTESY TONE SIMILES ALLEGORIES Slide21: !!!SUMMARY OF PUNCTUATION THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK: CREATIVE CREATIVE FORMAL USE OF: PUNCTUATION PUNCTUATION SEMI COLONS PERIODS PARENTHESES DASHES HYPHENS RESTRICTIVE AND NON-RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES PROPER CAPITALIZATION USE OF ELIPSES … [SIC] BRACKETS, ETC. Slide22: References: Barry, Anita K. English Grammar: Language as Human Behavior, 2nd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2002. Gibson, Walker. Tough, Sweet and Stuffy: An Essay on Modern American Prose Styles. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1966.