Re: Challenge to active-verb advocates

Subject: Re: Challenge to active-verb advocates
From: aer -at- PCSI -dot- CIRRUS -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 16:20:00 PST

This msg reminds me of another point about
agentless passives and their appropriateness/
appicability: the role of emphasis, focus or topic in writing.
Since writing derives from speech, it is not surprising
that we often mimic spoken constructions, and also
that we may depart from them in search of greater clarity.

Many languages have the equivalent of what is
called topic-comment construction: you say what it is
you're talking about, then you make the comment. Since
it is a frequent and natural sentence form in Yiddish,
it has been called Y-movement as well:
"Bagels, I love 'em. Bigots, I hate 'em."

To give proper emphasis to what your topic [or focus]
is in a sentence you may be better off to use a seemingly
less felicitous phrasing, _if_ it serves to make the emphasis
more clearly than any other form could.

So, passives, you may not like 'em, but hey, emphasis,
you gotta have it sometimes -- and it sure helps your
reader get the point and keep it in mind when tracking
sometimes complex instructions, to lead 'em into the
thicket without losing the way... [love to mix those metaphors]

Al Rubottom /\ tel: 619.535.9505, x1737
aer -at- pcsi -dot- cirrus -dot- com /\ fax: 619.541.2260

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