Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » -Ing Ring Rhyme

   
Author Topic: -Ing Ring Rhyme
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hatrackers who follow my responses to thirteen-line fragments note I have a bête noire, bugbear, pet peeve about -ing words. A few other responders note -ing word use is a common slang dialect feature of everyday conversation and life and, therefore, artful and generally accessible. A valid point; however, everyday slang use is a poor composition practice regardless of genre--formal or informal, creative or scholarly, journalism or entertainment, short or long.

The slang is the voice of improvised, heedless speech, common to news gossip, talk show gossip, reality television, web-blob chatter, and similar everyday media distribution, as commonplace as stale air and static noise. Why use a slang that is common, more or less used artlessly in other media, and all but universal slang use for prose and write just like every other ephemeral media voice and millions of mediocre writers?

One reason is for an accessible rhetorical purpose that does not call undue attention to the slang. For examples, the slang could be used to reflect a news broadcast as a False Document; to reflect an everyday though dramatic conversation between less than hyper-literate persons, thus develop characterization; or covertly such that the slang's static-action nature suits the narrative: for irrealis mood, for artful nondefiniteness; for an action meant to continue forward until replaced and ended by another action.

For example, -ing word present participle verbs without exception portray actions that continue for a span of time, usually a nondefinite time span, a vague start, a vague span, a vague end. A no less nondefinite time span, though completed, uses past or future perfect auxiliary verbs to signal a definite time span: had been go-ing or would have been go-ing, respectively.

Reasons for few or no -ing words are numerous. First, prescriptive grammar reasons: tense coordination of a serial sequence of sequential, noncontemporaneous action verbs; dynamic, robust verbs suited to the dramatic circumstances; definite, significant verbs that define a definite time span; for dynamic narrative voice, nonstatic.

Examples of noncoordinated tense with present participle -ing words: She went up to the door, knocking on it, waiting for someone to answer, knocking again. He fell down the slope, twisting, turning, tumbling over rocks and roots, trying for a handhold. Simple past tense is warranted instead. She went up to the door, knocked on it, waited for someone to answer, knocked again. He fell down the slope, twisted, turned, tumbled over rocks and roots, tried for a handhold. Likewise, dynamic, robust, definite, significant verbs and dynamic voice.

Numerous -ing words used as present participle verbs, adjectives, or nouns (gerunds) accumulate a cheap assonance rhyme that can be and often is a nuisance. Poets disparage -ing word rhymes as the cheapest rhyme scheme because they are the easiest syllable to rhyme. Poets don't use them, generally; prose isn't rhyme composition, though, in fact, rhymes disrupt prose reading. However, both the undue-attention principle and rhetorical-purpose principle allow a rhyme may have artful appeals, as may -ing word use.

SOS
Same Old Same

Sleeping
Waking
Going
Washing
Brushing
Eating

Driving
Working
Drinking
Eating
Working
Driving

Relaxing
Watching
Talking
Washing
Brushing
Sleeping

Tomorrow,
new day
-ing -ing.

A revision best practice is to rethink each and every -ing word for replacement and, if necessary, recast phrases, clauses, and sentences as needed.

Special attention should be given to to be and present participle verbs and verbs that are transitive (require an object) or are two-word verbs (take an adverb or preposition): was going, went; is sleeping, slept; were watching, watched; was looking, looked; are seeing, see; and so on. Though those verbs are less than dynamic, static, actually.

Also, special attention should be given to -ing present participle verbs used as adjectives: teaching college, lecturing professor, working stiff, plumbing connection, roasting hen, sweetening power, lightning fast, hearing aid, nursing assistant, and so on. Parking lot is problematic for U.S. dialects, no obvious alternative use presents though British dialects label a parking lot a car park.

Also, -ing gerunds, present participle verbs used as nouns, should receive revision attention as well: Her favorite pastime, shopping. Strolling is a practical exercise. Laws prohibit smoking there. His vocation is woodworking. Martin goes spelunking on holidays. And so on.

A self-imposed rule may determine that a dialogue voice of one character uses frequent -ing words while other characters don't, nor the narrator, or more than one character though not the narrator, or the narrator though not characters. Another self-imposed rule may determine to excise every -ing word possible, or use them judiciously, or use them amply, or to overstated excess, again, all the former because of an accessible rhetorical purpose.

[ September 22, 2014, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I would definitely flag this:
quote:
She went up to the door, knocking on it, waiting for someone to answer, knocking again.
But not necessarily this:

quote:
He fell down the slope, twisting, turning, tumbling over rocks and roots, trying for a handhold.
Why? Because the door sentence is a *narrative* sequence: a list of things that clearly are supposed happen one after another. Converting the actions into adverbs only obscures their sequential nature. The falling sentence is a different animal. It may well represent things which don't necessarily happen sequentially, but possibly simultaneously or interleaved with each other.

So this edit is good:
quote:
She went up to the door, knocked on it, waited for someone to answer, knocked again.
because it replaces a sentence with a clearer sentence that means the same thing. But this one is questionable:

quote:
He fell down the slope, twisted, turned, tumbled over rocks and roots, tried for a handhold.
Why questionable? Because it replaces the original sentence with another that might not mean what the author intended.

Sequential ordering is a grammatical necessity; an inescapable byproduct of speech's linear nature. But how do you express the fact that a set of actions have no fixed temporal relation to each other, and do so compactly? Well, converting those actions into participle adverbs seems as good a convention as any, and people seem to understand such a construction to mean just that.

That's precisely why the "door" example is problematic; carelessly applying this grammatical structure to such a sentence results in an absurd portrait of multi-tasking. But if multiple thing happening in effect simultaneously is what the author means to express, I see nothing wrong with decoupling an action's perceived sequence from its position in the sentence.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The second sentence example broken into complete sentences illustrates the participle verbs are verbs, not adverbs.

He fell down the slope. He twisted, turned, tumbled over rocks and roots. He tried for a handhold.

Which also illustrates the tense coordination grammar fault of mixed past and present-participle tense verbs.

He fell down the slope. He twisting, turning, tumbling over rocks and roots. He trying for a handhold.

Participle verbs can only be verbs, adjectives, or nouns anyway. Their use as adverbs in an adjective relationship maybe, probably not though. He smoking cooked!? He, smoking, cooked. He cooked, smoking. Smoking, he cooked. He cooked smokily. Smokily, he cooked. He smokily cooked. "Smoking," participle verb, adjective, or noun use. "Smokily," adverb.

[ September 20, 2014, 10:00 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Semantically, they *are* verbs in that they indicate actions or states. Grammatically (i.e., structurally) present participles function like adverbs in that they modify ordinary (finite) verbs, in these cases "went" and "fell". That's why you can't have a grammatically complete sentence in which all the verbs are in participle forms. The formal structure of a sentence requires that the participle have something to modify, as if it were an adverb or adjective.

In any case this is technical quibbling. Why is stringing a participle onto a finite verb usually bad writing? Because like so much bad writing it puts a faulty image into the reader's mind that he must immediately delete or revise. But when the picture is *not* fault, I say, "no harm, no foul."

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Fell is the action of the sentence subject "he," as are twisted, turned, tumbled, tried. They modify no verb; they are verbs. Participles do modify nouns, in which case they are adjectives.

"Fell down a slope," "fell" is a somewhat finite verb in that use, not in and of itself though. It's a nondefinite verb, in that the fall began at a past time, continued, and ended when the fall ends. He fell off the cliff, is a more definite usage, though still a process that spans a nondefinite length of time. He tripped off the cliff, is about the same degree of definiteness. He tripped and fell off the cliff. Tripped, in that case, is yet more definite. He fell from the cliff is more definite yet for the singular and only moment he fell from the cliff.

The issue of definiteness is partly a matter of transitive or intransitive verb case and partly a matter of robust diction: verb and object choice. "Fell," for example, may be either a transitive or intransitive verb case. He fell, intransitive case. He fell apart or he fell for her (two-word verb's adverb or preposition second-word case confused by transitive case requires an object)--transitive case.

He fell down, is an intransitive case with an adverb-linked, "down," object, the slope. Due to a resemblance to the transitive case, the adverb and object phrase give the verb a transitive appearance.

Stronger, clearer composition would choose a more robust verb and alter the object to enhance definiteness. He stumbled off the cliff edge. Intransitive case, definite verb stumble. Off, adverb. Definite object, the cliff edge.

Many, if not most, verbs have transitive and intransitive cases. To die is an example of a verb that is soley intransitive, though may take a prepositional phrase. He died, and he died from the fall, respectively. Die may also take an adverb phrase. He died by choice. Preposition case "by" and noun "choice" modify verb "died."

Perhaps labeling "twisting, turning, tumbling, trying" as adverbs may be due to a modifier confusion similarity to the intransitive verb-adverb phrase modifier above. He fell down the slope by twisting, turning, tumbling, trying for a handhold. Gerund nouns. Still an -ing ring rhyme concern. He fell down the slope by twists, turns, tumbles, tries for a handhold. Non-ing ring rhyme nouns.

[ September 21, 2014, 01:47 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Also, special attention should be given to -ing present participle verbs used as adjectives: ...lightning fast...

Does it really have to be noted that "lightning" is a noun? It's no different than "Jack rabbit fast." Unless the phrase is actually intended to mean that the speed produces lightning, as opposed to being as fast as lightning, it has no association with the verb.
Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"Lightning" modifies "fast" in that case, a noun used as an adjective derived from a gerund (noun) derived from a present participle verb. Lightning is a noun derived from the gerund form of verb to lighten as in to light, from the inflected form (present participle) of the lighting action from atmospheric static electricity discharge. Lightning, as well as an adjective itself, is also an intransitive verb itself, to discharge a flash of lightning.
Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh, my! And here's me, stuffed full of fluff and with only a button for a brain.

I guess I'm just one of those uneducated people who writes prose that sounds good to my ear, rather than adhering to the grammatical niceties.

Writing dialogue is another matter, however. When I'm writing dialogue, every word and sentence has a purpose. Sometimes to reveal character, sometimes to reveal status, usually to advance plot, and sometimes to provoke; but it should never be boring or pointless. I hate seeing dialogue written simply because a character seems to be standing still, doing nothing--apparently.

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
"Lightning" modifies "fast" in that case, a noun used as an adjective derived from a gerund (noun) derived from a present participle verb. Lightning is a noun derived from the gerund form of verb to lighten as in to light, from the inflected form (present participle) of the lighting action from atmospheric static electricity discharge. Lightning, as well as an adjective itself, is also an intransitive verb itself, to discharge a flash of lightning.

And....? It's still a noun. Just as plumbing is still a noun. Or are we really supposed to say "electrical discharge from the sky fast" instead?

This all seems like an overly complicated rationalization to formalize what is a subjective dislike of -ing. The truth is much of the formal rules for English have no more validity than any rule concerning the fashion of the catwalk; the language allows X, but fashionable people in their fashionable cliques say X is gauche, because Latin or Greek or French or Swahili, ignoring that English is none of those and never before had the rule the fashionistas insist upon. Split your infinitives. Dangle your participles. Use -ing verbs as adjectives. Take advantage of the language's flexible nature.

That's not to say there aren't good reasons to avoid the overuse of -ing words. Annoying your readers with repeated use is a darn good reason, and the only one you need. The rest is just a post-facto justification for the bias.

Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JSchuler:

This all seems like an overly complicated rationalization to formalize what is a subjective dislike of -ing. The truth is much of the formal rules for English have no more validity than any rule concerning the fashion of the catwalk;

Well, at the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I agree with you both of you to some degree. There are a lot of questionable "rules" like the supposed proscription of "split infinitives", but even breaking unquestionably valid rules is generally covered by the fiction writer's poetic license. Like breaking the rule against using sentence fragments.

But there's a good reason to be cautious about loading up a sentence with "-ing": it can put the wrong picture into the reader's mind. That's the hallmark of clumsy writing -- although Grouch Marx often intentionally used this effect for humorous effect ("Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a bannana.").

When you encounter a sentence like the one above with a string of present participles you should examine it critically; but a blanket ban on such sentences goes too far.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
MattLeo notes, writers' artistic license is a cornerstone of rhetoric, of which grammar is a subset. Whether any given word, term, trope, or rhetorical scheme is a grammatical vice or rhetorical virtue, works or doesn't work for any given reader or audience, relies upon language's vigor and capacity to be understood as meant and intended, and appeals.

Though again, I ask, why write the same tired, everyday-conversational slang as millions of other writers? Reasons yes, reasons no. Reasons immaterial, intangible, mystical. Language is ever alive, even languages that are rigidly prescriptive.

A set of revision principles for general guidance purposes, not laws, rules, mandates, nor absolutes:
  • "A revision best practice is to rethink each and every -ing word for replacement and, if necessary, recast phrases, clauses, and sentences as needed" (extrinsic). Rethink every word, phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, etc.
  • Give tired language of any type special attention: slang, idiom, vernacular, jargon, specialized discourse community expression, rhetorical tropes and schemes, etc.
  • Decorum: "A central rhetorical principle requiring one's words and subject matter be aptly fit to each other, to the circumstances and occasion (kairos), the audience, and the speaker.

    "Though initially just one of several virtues of style ("aptum"), decorum has become a governing concept for all of rhetoric. Essentially, if one's ideas are appropriately embodied and presented (thereby observing decorum), then one's speech will be effective. Conversely, rhetorical vices are breaches of some sort of decorum.

    "Decorum invokes a range of social, linguistic, aesthetic, and ethical proprieties for both the creators and critics of speech or writing. Each of these must be balanced against each other strategically in order to be successful in understanding or creating discourse" (Brown Silva Rhetoricae).
  • "Persuasion, according to Aristotle and the many authorities that would echo him, is brought about through three kinds of proof (pistis) or persuasive appeal:
    • logos The appeal to reason.
    • pathos The appeal to emotion.
    • ethos The persuasive appeal of one's character.

    "Although they can be analyzed separately, these three appeals work together in combination toward persuasive ends.

    "Aristotle calls these "artistic" or "intrinsic" proofs—those that could be found by means of the art of rhetoric—in contrast to "nonartistic" or "extrinsic" proofs such as witnesses or contracts that are simply used by the speaker, not found through rhetoric" (Brown).
  • Additional to the above, kleos is an appeal of a type much lamented by ambitious writers; that is, a writer's reputation works for or against the writer. Successful writers appeal on their names alone due to prior writing success. Ambitious, unpublished writers' reputations are unformed and subjects them to routine rejection due to lackluster narratives, for which they have generally disreputable reputations.
Yes, successful writers manage many rhetorical and grammatical vices artfully, persuasively and "can get away with circumtances no unpublished writer can." Publication success reputation breeds publication success.

A catch-22 is that ambitious writers cannot break in without far exceeding the narrative caliber of the entrenched status quo: originality, freshness, vigor, emotional expression, especially language vitality are components of narrative caliber. What's an ambitious writer to do? Again, why write the same tired, everyday-conversational slang as millions of other writers? -Ing ring rhyme is one of many lackluster writing habits of writing everyday-conversational slang. The story and its plot caliber matter as much as the language decorum caliber. Out pesky -ings.

[ September 21, 2014, 01:50 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
-- although Grouch Marx often intentionally used this effect for humorous effect ("Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a bannana.").

When you encounter a sentence like the one above with a string of present participles you should examine it critically; but a blanket ban on such sentences goes too far.

Present participles are universally -ing word suffix verbs, formed by adding -ing to simple present tense verbs. The Marx cite contains no present participles, only simple present tense verb "flies" and noun "flies," respectively.

[ September 21, 2014, 02:31 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JSchuler:
And....? It's still a noun. Just as plumbing is still a noun. Or are we really supposed to say "electrical discharge from the sky fast" instead?

"Lightning" is a noun in most common, conventional usage, as well as in less common usage a present participle verb, an adjective, and an intransistive verb.

And . . . ? And vigorous language may use the word unconventionally, persuasively, artfully. Camera strobe flashes lightning the newlywed couple, for example. Like lightning quickens emotionally, the couple emotionally quickened toward their appointed biblical prerogatives.

The intransitive verb lightning also has a part participle-like simple past tense inflected verb form, lightninged. Thunder-bumper squalls lightninged the skyline.

I don't know about any "supposed to" absolute anything writing. I do know artistic license flexibility argues both in favor of and against must-dos.

Prescriptively, "electrical discharge from the sky fast" takes an adjective's hyphen sequence. //electrical-discharge-from-the-sky fast// The hyphens serve several functions: signal the term is an adjective, make the phrase more readable and comprehensible, and, signaled by deliberate intent, call due attention to an emphasis.

I could see that phrase used artfully for unique circumstances; for example, similar to Navaho Code Talkers' methods, an alien speaks that way, rigidly literal, a character development possibility.

Another possible use of that phrase--a person who suffers mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury, due to a blunt force trauma, may use literal schemas to access and express words' meanings as substitutes for words they cannot recall. Again, a character development possibility.

[ September 21, 2014, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
The Marx cite contains no present participles, only simple present tense verb "flies" and noun "flies," respectively.

No irony intended, but I'm sure you're accustomed to being right when most of the people around you are wrong or hopelessly confused. So I'm not offended, but you shouldn't necessarily assume that *everyone* around you *totally* clueless.

I cited Marx's quip because it is relevant to the broader topic of ambiguity. Here Marx deliberately exploited what linguist Stephen Pinker calls the "garden path sentence" effect: an ambiguous parsing forces the reader to retract his initial parsing. Another example that Pinker gives is "Fat people eat accumulates".

My point was that is even ambiguous *syntax* is not necessarily a fault if it reflects the author's intention. Can we agree that having the intended effect on the reader is our touchstone here?

Likewise semantic ambiguity is not a writing fault per se, if that is what the author intends. In the case of "she went up to the door..." the author is clearly picturing *sequential* actions, therefore the sentence is an imprecise rendering *of the author's intent*. In the "he fell down the slope," example the author probably does not wish the reader to picture the happenings in a strict chronological order, thus the sentence *precisely conveys the ambiguity* he intends. That makes it a better sentence than its proposed replacement, which is incontestably more precise, but inaccurate.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No differences of opinions as regards the all-important and perhaps unanimous writer consensus about reader effect.

Yes, I do encounter resistance and grief from addressing inconvenient truths, for much of my long life. Grade school teachers complained that I corrected them when they lectured. Mom and Dad asked if I was "right." Yes, every teacher said, in every case, but. . . I believe mostly no one is clueless, only occasional products of misapprehensions and misunderstandings, distractions, and learning shortcomings will arise.

Robert's Rules of Order for informal parliamentary procedures allows points of interest interruptions of a person holding the floor or the speaking stick or pillow. Writing workshop forum rules of conduct are examples of informal parliamentary procedures.

Points of interest come in two main categories: imminent hazard for life, limb, or property, and corrections of factual mistakes. The categories overlap where a factual mistake may cause harm to life, limb, or property. A mistaken grammar principle statement may not be an imminent hazard though it may negatively influence a writer's art, hence, possibly the writer's life and property. Those are my guiding principles for correction or amplification, as the case may be.

Another shortcoming of the "He fell down the slope, twisting, turning, tumbling, trying for a handhold." example is due to missing contexture, especially emotional contexture that would lend the example exact, intentional, pathos appeal meaning.

My actual intents for that example is a deliberately ambiguous illustration, open to multiple interpretation, unclear, weak contexture, subject to individual auditor analysis.

Ambiguity has artistic appeals when ambiguity expresses uncertainty, irreality, or drama, emotion, and internal to a narrative's scene and reality imitation. That example's ambiguity is intentionally artless so that it illustrates and emphasizes -ing word clumsiness and ring rhyme. My actual rhetorical intents.

[ September 22, 2014, 03:00 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
"Lightning" is a noun in most common, conventional usage, as well as in less common usage a present participle verb, an adjective, and an intransistive verb.

Yes, except that's besides the point. In the example of "lightning fast," you are taking the noun "lightning" and using it as an adjective. You are not, in general usage, taking the present participle verb "lightning" and using it as an adjective. I want to know what is the grammatical difference between "lightning fast" and "jack rabbit fast?" What is the difference between "plumbing connection" and "hose connection?" Because all I see is that one example has an -ing, and the other doesn't. Otherwise, the construction is exactly the same, and grammar doesn't enter into it at all.
Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Any noun can be used as an adjective. Such nouns are called "adjunct nouns". So it doesn't matter whether "lightning" is a participle functioning as an adjective or a an adjunct noun -- "adjunct" here is just another way of saying "functioning as an adjective."

As for "hose connection" and "plumbing connection", exactly the same sequence of generative grammar rules can be used to produce either. They are grammatically identical if you consider "plumbing" a noun independent of the finite verb "to plumb" (as most dictionaries do); otherwise grammatically equivalent if you consider "plumbing" a gerund. In other words no practical difference.

That rule sequence, by the way, also generates "connection hose", as well as countless nonsense pairings like "eggshell hammer". This is actually a good thing when you invent things ("water wheel", "space ship", "time machine", "ray gun" and many other things dear to a science fiction writer's heart).

A lot of what we're quibbling over is just convention (e.g. is "lightning" a gerund, or a noun in its own right?). And even if we could restrict grammar to meaningful sentences (which we can't), we wouldn't want to. What matters is what readers make of what we write. Can we improve upon how we express our meaning, AND can we improve upon that meaning itself?

Now extrinsic has an interesting proposition for us. If I understand it correctly, he is saying that we shouldn't write sentences that use a collection of participles to express a collection of events because it leaves readers to piece together the sequence in which those events occur, or worse, to imagine them happening all at the same time. This is a VERY interesting and useful observation. It shows us many places where we have either written vaguely or imagined vaguely, both bad things. I just wouldn't go so far as to say this particularly kind of sentence NEVER desirable. Is it 95%, even 99% of the time undesirable? Sure. But not quite 100%. Of course we'll end up arguing over which sentences are in the exception, but a quick rule of thumb which catches faults 99% of the time is nothing to sneeze at.

So I think there's no harm in avoiding sequences of participles as a rule, as long as that rule is subject to poetic license.

[ September 21, 2014, 09:46 PM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
MattLeo artfully reflects my -ing ring rhyme revisions proposition and matters of parts of speech concerns.

Eight English language parts of speech--many words nominally, prescriptively, and denotatively fit into one category though also fit into several more categories connotatively and descriptively by use. The word still, for example: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, prescriptively; and interjection, descriptively; not preposition, conjunction, nor pronoun.

Parts of speech are grammar matters, as are suffixes, spelling, punctuation, diction, and syntax, etc.

The grammatical differences between 'lightning fast' and "jack rabbit fast'" are matters of diction and syntax. In those situations, no overt differences. Diction- and syntax-wise both are noun uses as modifiers of nouns, hence they are adjectives.

A sentence diagram, a grammar exercise, annotates noun modifier words as adjectives based upon their situational use, not their nominal use. The difference is that "lightning" situationally may be also used as a gerund, a participle verb, an adjective, or an intransitive verb, perhaps adverb, for other situations.

Jackrabbit, one word, by the way, is prescriptively and nominally a noun and may be descriptively used as an adjective due to being a noun.

Jackrabbit does not yet, if it ever will except descriptively (artistic license), have a verb, adverb, or other parts of speech uses, though it as well as many, if not all, words may be used as interjections.

Rabbit: (v) to hunt rabbits. By natural extension--Jackrabbit: (v) to hunt jackrabbits.

Maypole jackrabbited (v) scrub brush burrows. Jackrabbit! (int) Angus cold stunned it there with a shock stick, jackrabbited (past participle verb) in its burrow, jackrabbiting (present participle verb) it for meat. Them good old boys jackrabbit (adv) stalked Texicanna plains for sure. They like jackrabbiting (gerund noun). Unlikely jackrabbit pronoun, preposition, or conjunction uses.

A word or phrase's relationship to syntax establishes its use, not its nominal part of speech.

[ September 23, 2014, 01:28 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Reziac
Member
Member # 9345

 - posted      Profile for Reziac   Email Reziac         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JSchuler:You are not, in general usage, taking the present participle verb "lightning" and using it as an adjective.
Um. There's no such verb. You're thinking of "lightening", to lighten.

In simple terms,

-ed verbs express completed or distinct action

-ing verbs express ongoing or continuous action

Either can and have been misused by writers who should know better. But that doesn't mean either should be generally excised (an exercise that might be particularly difficult if one writes in present tense).

I walk(ed) down the street.
(it's already done)

is most definitely not the same as

I am/was walking down the street.
(ongoing action)

What excites the gods of sequential prose is the malconstruction:

Running down the bank, I crossed the river.

Posts: 745 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Websters lists "lightning" as an intransitive verb, third after noun first and adjective second. 1903, "to discharge a flash of lightning."

Simple present tense not only reports actions conducted this now moment, for prose, the tense also implies in many cases nondefinite action, especially with simple present tense verbs, some transitive--requires an object--some intransitive, like "walk," see, sit, run, stand, turn, give, put, hand, wrap, point, help, try, etc., that inherently take a particle: an adverb or preposition, if not a definite object of the preposition, the verb, and the sentence.

Instead of "I am/was walking down the street." recast to simple present eliminates the -ing suffix. //I walk down the street.// "walk down the street" is somewhat definite, somewhat ongoing action, similar definiteness, similar ongoing action to the to be-present participle verbs and meanings.

An object phrase's grammatical function is an "argument" that limits to variable degrees a verb's action time span, space span, and subject of the object span.

Simple present tense verbs, like those above, are somewhat ongoing actions. Their variable nondefiniteness degrees allow, in suitable contextures, for ongoing though definite action expression. A sentence object enhances their definiteness to variable degrees.

Verb definiteness partly depends upon sentence subject and object definiteness, though many verbs are object-independent, intransitive verbs, though complicated by many verbs in one context are transitive, in another context intransitive, or by an optional object "argument" definiteness as a necessity for clarity and strength.

A verb's definiteness partly also depends on the verb.

He snapped. He snapped the fastener. Both definite to a specific moment, the second more definite than the first due to the second's sentence object, the fastener, limitation of the verb, though a simple past tense verb. Both limited to sentence subject "he." Definite in that one person snapped, though indefinite which "he" without stronger and clearer who context.

He snaps. is less definite due to no time or sentence object subject argument compared to the past tense example. Snaps what? His mind? His speech? His fingers? Object or prior contexture should provide the definiteness argument. He snaps the fastener, equally definite compared to the past tense example, due to the object's argument.

Definiteness of a verb and its relationship to sentence subjects and objects, to dependent and independent clauses and phrases is a crucial consideration for reader effect, for reading and comprehension ease, for strength and clarity, and for appeal's sakes.

[ September 23, 2014, 03:38 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Reziac:
Um. There's no such verb. You're thinking of "lightening", to lighten.

Actually there is, it's just extinct in Modern English. The Middle English verb "lightnen" means "to make bright." I know because I keep Anglo-Saxon and Middle English dictionaries bookmarked for coming up with plausible but fictional fantasy place names (e.g. "Butterwich", "Neweholt", "Sutton-on-Bourne", "Beardmarket Coombe").

I don't think anyone would argue for a total excision of participles from the language. But when you see a participle essentially being used as a verb, that sentence deserves closer scrutiny.

One curiosity: "Thunder" has recognizable cognates to English in a wide variety of languages including Sanskrit, Farsi, Latin and most Romance and Germanic languages. But "lightning" is peculiarly English. Even West Frisian, the closest surviving language to English, has no cognate for "lightning". The "-inge" participle seems to be a feature unique to the Middle English dialects spoken around the Thames estuary.

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JSchuler
Member
Member # 8970

 - posted      Profile for JSchuler   Email JSchuler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
MattLeo artfully reflects my -ing ring rhyme revisions proposition and matters of parts of speech concerns.

I'm sorry, because I still have absolutely no idea why you were intent on breaking words down into parts of speech for your analysis. I still have no idea why present participle verbs "should be given special attention" over other -ing words, no matter how they're used. If my character is searching Bing for a ring with bling that sings, it's not the parts of speech that matter. I see no more reason to give special attention to present participles over words that begin with "s." It's the repetition of sound that's the issue.
quote:
Originally posted by Reziac:
[QUOTE]Um. There's no such verb. You're thinking of "lightening", to lighten.

Take it up with extrinsic, not me.
Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JSchuler:
I'm sorry, because I still have absolutely no idea why you were intent on breaking words down into parts of speech for your analysis. I still have no idea why present participle verbs "should be given special attention" over other -ing words, no matter how they're used. If my character is searching Bing for a ring with bling that sings, it's not the parts of speech that matter. I see no more reason to give special attention to present participles over words that begin with "s." It's the repetition of sound that's the issue.

I listed each -ing word category, present participle verb, gerund noun, and adjective uses of gerund nouns for revision attention cosideration, due to -ing ring rhyme assonance. Parts of speech identification aids revision, for whether another word choice is warranted, a syntax adjustment is warranted, a punctuation adjustment is warranted, or an added particle or other auxiliary word or clause is warranted.

I emphasized present participle verbs for nondiscretionary attention because their misuse for serial sequential- or simultaneous-action sequences is a grammar fault as well, a tense coordination fault. Awareness of whether an -ing word is a nominal noun, a gerund noun, a present participle verb, an adjective, or any of the former uses within a verbal or adverb clause aids revision considerations.

[ September 23, 2014, 03:29 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Let me take a slightly different approach here. When would you explicitly NOT want to coordinate events in time?

Well, where you've got one event which occurs in the course of another: "I sprained my ankle playing volleyball", or "Lancelot lost his way seeking the Holy Grail," or even "Lancelot lost his way riding his horse and seeking the Holy Grail."

Trying to revise the participle out of these sentences results in *too much* precision: "Lancelot sought the Holy Grail then lost his way," sounds like he was seeking then stopped to get lost, when in fact there was no single point in time where he got lost; nor was there a point in time when Lancelot stopped seeking the Holy Grail.

Putting an action into a participle *also* de-emphasizes that action. "Seeking the Holy Grail" and "playing volleyball" are the *circumstances* in which the main action of the sentence take place: getting lost and spraining your ankle.

This shows one good reason to stop and check any actions-as-participles that have crept into your manuscript: are you unconsciously de-emphasizing these actions? You see a lot of tentative writing where the author feels he hasn't quite pictured what is happening.

There's another issue with participles, which is they aren't grammatically anchored to one end of a sentence or another. You could write, "Playing volleyball I sprained my ankle." This is perfectly grammatical, but it sounds antique. English used to have more grammatical gee-gaws attached to nouns (like German still does), and so word order was more flexible. Starting a sentence with a participle can sometimes evoke old poetry where word order was manipulated to fit meter: "Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day; He was as fressh as is the month of may," ("Singing he was, or flirting all the day; He was as fresh as the month of May" -- Chaucer).

Posts: 1459 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"Playing volleyball[,] I sprained my ankle." is a prefatory verbal phrase-main clause syntax, which takes a comma separation. Though not dangled there, the warranted comma is similar in Reziac's dangled participle phrase above. "Running down the bank, I crossed the river."

Many writers and critics use "dangling participle" instead of "dangled participle." Slight differences of rhetorical intent and meaning, though both clearly name the grammar fault, which is easily adjusted by a dash substituted for the comma when warranted.

The Chaucer cite illustrates a rhetorical scheme used in poetry and is perhaps artful in prose for characterization purposes: hyperbaton: a transposition of normal syntax. An alien or spirit may use hyperbaton to speak. Several of Yoda's comments are hyperbaton, for one example:

"Lost a planet Master Obi-Wan has," (Star Wars: Episode IV). The object phrase is positioned before the sentence subject and predicate phrases.

English-second-language speakers from Eastern Europe and from the Far East often intuitively use hyperbaton. Natives from countries where Indo-European-origin languages prevail order syntax differently from countries where other language origins prevail.

For similar -ing word avoidance reasons, for prose, rhymes created due to hyperbaton or other rhetorical schemes are worth revision consideration.

Emphasis, as MattLeo notes, is a key rhetorical concept for all composition. Clause or phrase dependency, independency, essentialness, and definiteness degrees are useful revision strategy considerations for clarity, strength, and reading and comprehension ease, and appeals for reader effect's sake.

A useful revision guidance is whether emphasis is stronger and clearer at the start, middle, or end of a sentence, or paragraph. Medium-length sentences are easier by default to read and comprehend, clearer and stronger than long sentences or clauses or phrases, which are a type of emphasis on their own. Short sentences, also an emphasis type, are easiest to read, though may not be as comprehensible due to limited contexture or emphasis development before, within, or after short sentences.

"Playing volleyball[,] I sprained my ankle." places emphasis on the main clause, provides prefatory setup in advance of the main idea. If the example waranted more emphasis, the substition scheme epitasis offers guidance: a concluding clause or sentence that amplifies what came before. MattLeo's example illustrates epitasis. Epitasis' opposite, aenis, may be warranted instead: a concluding clause or sentence that diminishes what came before. Epitasis and aenis signal emphasis and de-emphasis, respectively.

Epitasis and aenis are useful scene transition methods, for example.

From my perspective, back to -ing words, they artlessly diminish emphasis if untimely and injudiciously used.

Note also that MattLeo's volleyball example uses the participle phrase as a modifier of "I," a pronoun. Participle phrases modify nouns and pronouns, hence they have an adjective relationship to their subjects. A dangled participle modifies no subject nouns or pronouns, maybe modifies nothing, maybe modifies a predicate or an object.

Reziac's example, "Running down the bank, I crossed the river." does modify the pronoun "I." The malconstruction, the grammar fault is non-congruent action places.

Dangled modifier modifies nothing:
Putting aside feeling ill, reveille call came early.

Dangled object modifier (past participle verb):
Wasted on crack cocaine, grotesque demons plague folks' dreams.

Dangled predicate modifier:
Spending the time loafing, the doctor's patients summons awaited the call.

However, slang dialect and stream of consciousness methods use unconventional grammars, slang grammars for dialogue and informal thought and speech grammars for stream of consciousness. Whether a narrator reflector or reflector character is characterized by informal grammars may be artful so long as the expression is clear, strong, timely, judicious, and signals the intent.

[ September 27, 2014, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Being so awkward in sentences, I try to avoid dangling participles.

My favorite bad example, however, is this one:

"Running through the forest, the exposed roots kept tripping me."

Posts: 8541 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have refrained from commenting, other than self-deprecatingly 'cos grammar, know I not too well and hit me in the face it could and rightly still I know it not.

That being said, simply writing a list similar to those you are discussing is just lazy writing, pure and simple, bad grammar notwithstanding.

And, unless reality has been altered in your story effect follows on from cause inexorably and, in most cases, events unfold in discrete sequences: 1, 2, 3 . . . until stuff stops happening.

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thinking...I suppose, thanks to the magic of the "find" feature of word processing, one could simply go through one's work, find the offensive feature, then edit the sentences to remove them as they're found. I do this regularly with "ly" adverbs and verb tenses---I'll use them in posted conversation but would prefer them out of my manuscripts.

I suppose "-ing" endings do fall in with that sort of thing...now I've got something else to think about looking for...

Posts: 8727 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Reziac
Member
Member # 9345

 - posted      Profile for Reziac   Email Reziac         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So tempting syntaxing Groaci here discussionness.


[My Groaci is a little rusty, but basically everything was either -ing or -ness -- action or being.]

Posts: 745 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
General responder consenus, -ing word overuse is problematic. Subjective positions may vary about how much -ing bling is too much and whether an -ing word recast may weaken, confuse, or signal unintended meaning--contexture (recast meaning)--or strengthen contexture.

How about a syntax topic next, related to a craft principle? Stream of consciousness methods that signal thought and speech's improvised nature, composition on the fly, so to speak.

Live at the Improv Studio.

Maybe a discussion of emphasis as a combined craft and syntax principle as well.

Posts: 5157 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2