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Response to oberliner (Original post)

Tue May 15, 2018, 01:03 PM

64. How many have to die before this rises to your threshold of "slaughter"?

Mealy-mouthed parsing from the comfort of a computer can't gloss over the horror and loss, and the lasting resentment that will only fuel further atrocities (and I can find no other sensible word for this).

It reminds me of "An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar" - https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-interactive-guide-to-ambiguous-grammar

Depending on whom you ask, the use of the active voice over the passive is arguably the most fundamental writer’s maxim, thought to lend weight, truth, and power to declarative statements. This absolutist view is flawed, however, because language is an art of nuance. From time to time, writers may well find illustrative value in the lightest of phrases, sentences so weightless and feathery that they scarcely even seem to exist at all. These can convey details well beyond the crude thrust of the hulking active voice, and when used strictly as ornamentation, they needn’t actually convey anything at all.

As a thought experiment, let’s examine in extremely close detail a set of iterative changes that can be made to a single simple grammatical structure, turning it from a statement taken at face value into one loaded with unrealized implication. This makes for rich writing which rewards – or even demands – close scrutiny.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

[A longish read, IMHO well worth following to the end]

We have finally fully arrived at the ultimate in passive voice: the past exonerative tense, so named because culpability is impossible when actions no longer exist. For the most extensive erasure of direct communicative value, the original object can now even be removed entirely.

Speed was involved in a jumping‑related incident with a lazy dog while a fox was brown.


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