Diction and Tonality

Diction and Tonality

Diction and Tonality (and a little grammar) Misused wordsthe word doesnt actually mean what the writer thinks it does. Example: Cree Indians were a monotonous culture until French and British settlers arrived. Revision: Cree Indians were a homogenous culture. Words with unwanted connotations or meanings. Example: I sprayed the ants in their private places. Revision: I sprayed the ants in their hiding places. Using a pronoun when readers cant tell whom/what it refers to. Example: My cousin Jake hugged my brother Trey, even though he didnt like him very much.

Revision: My cousin Jake hugged my brother Trey, even though Jake doesnt like Trey very much. Jargon or technical terms that make readers work unnecessarily hard. Maybe you need to use some of these words because they are important terms in your field, but dont throw them in just to sound smart. Example: The dialectical interface between neo-Platonists and anti-disestablishment Catholics offers an algorithm for deontological thought. Revision: The dialogue between neo-Platonists and certain Catholic thinkers is a model for deontological thought. Loaded language. Sometimes we as writers know what we mean by a certain word, but we havent ever spelled that out for readers. We rely too heavily on that word, perhaps repeating it often, without clarifying what we are talking about. Example: Society teaches young girls that beauty is their most important quality. In order to prevent eating disorders and other health problems, we must change society. Revision: Contemporary American popular media, like magazines and movies, teach young girls that beauty is their most important

quality. In order to prevent eating disorders and other health problems, we must change the images and role models girls are offered. Sentence fragment What is a complete sentence? A complete sentence is not merely a group of words with a capital letter at the beginning and a period or question mark at the end. A complete sentence has three components: 1. a subject (the actor in the sentence) 2. a predicate (the verb or action), and 3. a complete thought (it can stand alone and make senseits independent). Comma splice

Activity Time! 1. There is absolutely no chance that communism will exist twenty years from now. 2. When Adam said that he didnt like John, he thought it was an insult. 3. Because his car was in the shop. 4. She didnt like him, he didnt like her. Run-on What are all the ways you can fix: My favorite Mediterranean spread is hummus it is very garlicky.

Wordiness I came to the realization that I realized that She is of the opinion that She thinks that Concerning the matter of

About During the course of During In the event that If

In the process of During, while Regardless of the fact that Due to the fact that In all cases At that point in time Prior to Although

Because Always Then Before 1. In the event that she would be sick, she thought of various ways in which she could still attend the event, such as via Skype or even by telephoning in. 2. However, what he said wasnt what he meant, specifically about that part where he said he thought Jessica was mean. 3. Regardless of the fact that I dont like onions, I still will make the

dish with them. 4. Contrary to what you may believe, this obstacle course is actually quite easy. Cliches Agree to disagree Dead as a doornail Disagree Dead

Pushing the envelope Approaching the limit Up in the air Unknown/undecided Activity Time 1.

2. 3. 4. Grass is always greener Play it by ear. Let the cat out of the bag Last but not least Writing for Academic Audience

Spot the problems There is not anything wrong with supporting liberalism, yet there is totally a difference in ignorance in classes. While I believe in individual rights and freedoms, the classical Marxism criticism often belie concepts of universal good: thus, while Marxism supports questioning economy it does not propose any positive answers, only negative ones. When you think about when you go to class, you often see students with cellphones. Repetition and Redundancy

Re-write 1. She hated the movie; the movie was the worst she thought, specifically the special effects. 2. Some people argue that womens rights are everyones rights, but some people argue that womens rights are less important to the general public. 3. The girl walked over to the fountain. The girl drank from the fountain. The girl walked back to her desk. The girl sighed. Passive Voice

1. Myth: Use of the passive voice constitutes a grammatical error. Use of the passive voice is not a grammatical error. Its a stylistic issue that pertains to claritythat is, there are times when using the passive voice can prevent a reader from understanding what you mean. 2. Myth: Any use of to be (in any form) constitutes the passive voice. The passive voice entails more than just using a being verb. Using to be can weaken the impact of your writing, but it is occasionally necessary and does not by itself constitute the passive voice. 3. Myth: The passive voice always avoids the first person; if something is in first person (I or we) its also in the active voice. On the contrary, you can very easily use the passive voice in the first person. Heres an example: I was hit by the dodgeball. 4. Myth: You should never use the passive voice.

While the passive voice can weaken the clarity of your writing, there are times when the passive voice is OK and even preferable. 5. Myth: I can rely on my grammar checker to catch the passive voice. See Myth #1. Since the passive voice isnt a grammar error, its not always caught. Typically, grammar checkers catch only a fraction of passive voice usage. Why was the road crossed by the chicken? form of to be + past participle = passive voice For example: The metropolis has been scorched by the dragons fiery breath. When her house was invaded, Penelope had to think of ways to delay

her remarriage. (passive) A new system of drug control laws was set up. (By whom?) (active) The Lao Peoples Revolutionary Party set up a new system of drug control laws When is it okay? 1. To emphasize an object.Take a look at this example: 100 votes are required to pass the bill. This passive sentence emphasizes the number of votes required. An active version of the sentence (The bill requires 100 votes to pass) would put the emphasis on the bill, which may be less dramatic.

2. To de-emphasize an unknown subject/actor. Consider this example: Over 120 different contaminants have been dumped into the river. If you dont know who the actor isin this case, if you dont actually know who dumped all of those contaminants in the riverthen you may need to write in the passive. But remember, if you do know the actor, and if the clarity and meaning of your writing would benefit from indicating him/her/it/them, then use an active construction. Yet consider the third case. 3. If your readers dont need to know whos responsible for the action. Heres where your choice can be difficult; some instances are less clear than others. Try to put yourself in your readers position to anticipate how he/she will react to the way you have phrased your thoughts. Here are two examples: (passive) Baby Sophia was delivered at 3:30 a.m. yesterday. and (active) Dr. Susan Jones delivered baby Sophia at 3:30 a.m. yesterday.

Re-write 1. 2. 3. 4. I will be driven to school tomorrow by mom. This could be seen by the effect mentioned previously. The man should have been interested, but he was not. The act of driving should be something to be considered.

Things to ask yourself Am I sure what each word I use really means? Am I positive, or should I look it up? Have I found the best word or just settled for the most obvious, or the easiest, one? Am I trying too hard to impress my reader? Whats the easiest way to write this sentence? (Sometimes it helps to answer this question by trying it out loud. How would you say it to someone?) What are the key terms of my argument? Can I outline out my argument using only these key terms? What others do I need? Which do I not need? Have I created my own terms, or have I simply borrowed what looked like key ones from the assignment? If Ive borrowed the terms, can I find better ones in my own vocabulary, the texts, my notes, the

dictionary, or the thesaurus to make myself clearer? Are my key terms too specific? (Do they cover the entire range of my argument?) Can I think of specific examples from my sources that fall under the key term? Are my key terms too vague? (Do they cover more than the range of my argument?) Thesis statement tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question

or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. makes a claim that others might dispute. is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first paragraph that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation. Is my thesis strong? Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question.

Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, its possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument. Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like good or successful, see if you could be more specific: why is something good; what specificallymakes something successful? Does my thesis pass the So what? test? If a readers first response is, So what? then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue. Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. Its okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary. Does my thesis pass the how and why? test? If a readers first response is how? or why? your thesis may be

too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning Thesis statement clarity The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different. (What is wrong?) What is wrong? Version 1: There are many important river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn.

Version 2: The contrasting river and shore scenes in Huckleberry Finn suggest a return to nature. Version 3: Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twains Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave civilized society and go back to nature Re-write your own thesis statement with all of this knowledge!

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