This is topic Babble Idiolect in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
A substantial portion of my reading and broadcast media exposure, for work, for entertainment, for information, yada, involves a babble idiolect: The -ing disease, -ly adverb diseases, filbuster conjunction disease, extra lens filter disease, inconsistent grammatical person, tense, and mood, among other grammar glitches, subject-verb number agreement, inapt articles and particles, inapt prepositions, static voice mistakes, dead metaphors, worn-thinner than gilt clichés, tired as thirdhand retread rubber topos, and, of course, uninformed if not outright absent arguments, the grammar principles thereof as well as composition metagenre types. In short, the informal, casual everyday conversation mannerism of public discourse.

The discourse community is of one mind and voice. Blah, blah, blah and nothing meaningful happens at the start, and nothing meaningful happens in the middle, and nothing meaningful happens at the end, and to no meaningful point overall. "And" disease, too.

However, this reading and exposure to blah leaves me of two minds; one, that the idiolect is the most common expression mode, therefore, the most accessible and of the widest appeal potential; two, that the idiolect is subject to management, control, and taming for prose's more or less artful dramatic designs. My quandary: is adaption of such an idiolect for prose merited, worth the effort? Of course, the principle of leavened, limited timely, judicious jargon is apropos.

I've identified macro areas where any given unconventional grammar principle controverts composition wisdoms, like, say, emotionally empty adverbs that nonetheless signal emotional charge. Plus, grammar methods that support and defuse such jargon use, punctuation for apt emphasis suits the bill: commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, plus, sentence fragments. Such terms are by definition interjections, overstatements, hyperboles, parenthetical asides. Punctuation other than parentheses are warranted. Parentheses, brackets, and braces signal greater and stronger separation than, say, commas, etc. Same with -ing disease, its stronger, commoner three glitches of non-simultaneous actions depicted, ring-rhyme nuisance, and inconsistent tense sequences.

My true quandary, worth the effort perhaps, though, should I in my lofty grammar tower aerie lower to the masses and perhaps reinforce, even project an artful irony the dull-dead and common as outdoor air idiolect of public discourse as like cultured expression -- you know, mass-culture cultured?

The proverbial "they" did this back when Modern English overtook and replaced Middle English. The so-labeled "King's English" is remnant Middle English usage at its last death throes circa late eighteenth century, and survives in a few small pockets across the English usage globe. Modern English and the Great Vowel Shift somewhat simplified pronunciation, spelling, diction, and syntax, yet was also purposed to add more lyrical substance to the indo-Germanic language origin legacy; that is, that Old and Middle English are -- well, guttural, harsh on the ear, deemed uncivilized, barbaric; and the next progression more poetically lyrical. The trend is toward more poetic and lyrical, pleasanter to the ear and eye, has been anyway. Language scholars claim vulgar Latin killed the now dead language. Cultural anthropologists claim insistent and rigid high Latin scholars killed the language.

Do I in any way want a prose association with contribution to glorify, ironically, support of the inept, inapt vulgate public discourse idiolect? What would that do to a rich language tapestry as-is capable of much dramatic and lyrical-poetic prose equipment?

[ March 24, 2017, 12:00 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
I don't know, extrinsic. I, for one, have loved rich and artful prose in works with strong story lines.

There are writers who are so good at story that they can get away with weak and even sloppy prose, and maybe that's the best they can do.

If you can tell a great story with beautiful prose, though, don't stint.

For me, at least, it all comes down to a powerful story, and the richness of the prose can be an added blessing.
Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :
I think you're missing something essential E.

Storytelling was originally a vocal art. It didn't rely on a person's educational background in order to entertain. English became dominant because the church treated latin as a special language. Latin was used so as to never be questioned by the masses.

A good storyteller understands wit can be considered, clever or arrogant. Wit for wit's sake usually goes astray unless you're a master of prose and have a few centuries of edits to tweak its structure.

So what makes a master storyteller? Is it in the grammar of written prose? Or the mastery of voluminous vocabulary? One could make those arguments. But I challenge you with this scenario: Many hundreds of thousands of stories of pure imagination have been and will be delivered parent to child, filled with all sorts of ridiculous tickles, roars, spooky faces, and sloppy kisses to remain in happy memories far longer than the most exquisite writer. And never a thought to grammar be.

Face it, being clever is part of becoming a master storyteller, but on that journey, one must be careful not to outwit oneself. You cannot force an audience to live up to your expectations. The more you force your will upon them the more they feel oppressed.

So in summation: A well-timed tickle is just as important as a well-placed word when its goal is to entertain. A perfect sentence can be easy on a readers eyes but doesn't always spark their imagination. And anyone can just as easily disguise a speech as a story that is in truth an eloquent load of cr*p.

Just a thought,

Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
I miss little. When I read, I note where a writer's language arts and skills soar, where those plummet into ruin, where the story suffers from overwrought and underwrought language, if not misapprehended drama skills.

I know the structures and aesthetics of family taletelling, summary and explanation of long and often repeated variant, ages-old legacies mostly. The minds, imaginations, affections of children newly exposed to folk make believe wisdoms do much to create fond memories for those tales.

That age group is not my audience, mine is of a later age and culture savviness. Readers who might speak the public idiolect in their daily lives though have higher expectations from reading outside their career subjects, want only simple entertainments without much, if any, analytical efforts, and such that no common grammar glitches disturb their reading and comprehension ease and enjoyment.
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
And that sounds like what's called "invisible prose" to me. So carefully written that the reader doesn't notice the artfulness of it. Not bland at all, just smooth, without the bumps that you are so good at catching in so many of the 13 line submissions here on the forum.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
"Invisible prose," after a gander around the Internet, seems both a disagreeable and agreeable principle, both positions predicated upon stylistic mannerisms, not invisible grammar. Neither faction grasps the arts of prose's poetic equipment yet bases their arguments on, more so, narrative point of view circumstances. The debate centers on the ages old and unsatisfiable tell and show, or show, don't tell, debate.

Tell, both faction's mind-set, is authorial tone inclusion, a real or implied writer's attitude toward topics, told by narrator tell, intrusive to some readers, essential to others. For example, a narrator directly tells readers how to feel about a topic, imperative-like, implied second person, as it were. How dare this writer tell me how to feel, to think, to believe, to act!

Okay, sure, that tell type can be intrusive -- for certain circumstances, for more than a few recipients. On the other hand, am I not a smarter reader than that? The told attitude is surpassable. That tell type is always subjective -- one individual's opinion subject to challenge and question, interpretation, acceptance and rejection. Maybe might be worth a read in order to consider as yet unconsidered opinions, at least to evaluate what the stuff and junk goes on outside my comfort zone, see what the everloving idiots who bother me think, believe, feel, do. In the end, though, am I persuaded or retrenched in my opinions? The argument must be potent for me to change my mind. Or otherwise, the writer only preaches to the choir, of which I may be a member or not a member or pass as a member and do not really belong, am at most peripheral.

Show, in such baseline scenarios, lays out a dramatic action for all to see and evaluate, to judge, not told how to feel, believe, think, act, not for to accept or reject the tonal opinion on point, no writer or narrator opinion espoused at all, only shows how one or so individuals manage existence's want-problem complications and conflict stakes' risks. Powerful persuasive show expresses --implies -- an opinion nonetheless, though one that applies to the specific circumstances only -- the specific agonists, the specific emotional-moral complication-conflict, the specific set of events, settings, and characters, this one and only agony, cause, tension, time, place, situation, and these personas.

And yet I'm unsatisfied by either show or tell applied for those ends. Instead, I strive for both and a third space of counterthrust and riposte. All personas are heroes, nemeses, villains, and distress victims in my world view, in that we are as we are and stuck sleepwalking the way we are until each encounters the great transformative change, if ever, that is the purpose of existence -- the meaning of life.

Invisible prose, in my new view, therefore, offers a sublime, profound insight into how I might approach artful expression parameters. Not stylistically empty, invisible, as it were, rather, prose rhetoric, its invisible poetic equipment. Recent studies and appreciation of metaphoric verbs and verbals precede this insight and contribute potentials and metaphor for subjects and objects, too.

I guess, then, that developing a voice that uses all the above, top list of grammar glitches best be reserved for personas for whom those are common and part of their nature, in dialogue and thought discourse, for narration discourse when those suit a narrator's mien and nature, though with artful comparative contrast, so that each voice echos the other and all the more suitably distinguishable for the contrasts, yet remains invisible enough for smooth, undisturbed reading and comprehension ease and appeal.

[ March 26, 2017, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by walexander (Member # 9151) on :

You're trying to logic out the illogical. Humans are both emotional and at times calculating but on those spectrums vary in their degrees of cruelty and kindness. There is no perfect solution: No perfect world. We need chaos to thrive. To put it simply, even all your thoughts above could just be considered emotional rant about logical thinking.

You may find on this journey of yours that the most amazing, insightful prose, never sprung from any logical source, but simply materialized as if from a dream. Chase the rabbit if you dare, but remember the story, there's nothing logical on the other side of the hole.

Some people work an entire life looking for achievement, other's it appears as if by magic. The riddle has no answer except in the struggle in between.

Just remember, the answer lay just beyond the second star on the right, and straight on till morning.


W. [Smile]
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Sublime harmony between grammar, content and organization craft, expression, and appeal is counterintuitive, though rational and valid. Logic is causality. If D follows A, B, and C, C causes D, B causes C, and A causes B, then A causes D -- logical. Otherwise, without a causal-logical relationship between those, A, B, C, D's noncausal relationship invokes a post or cum or both propter hoc fallacy -- illogical.
Posted by Reziac (Member # 9345) on :
"I'm right impressed with yer fine words," says Paddy, "but where's the story??"
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Grammar and organization and content craft and expression and appeal entail a sublime harmony of composition skills and arts. While distinguishable and overlapped and subject to options discretion, those are indivisible from story.
Posted by Scot (Member # 10427) on :
I'm eager to see what you come up with, extrinsic. Especially since I found this watershed statement in another thread:

I am at an end of study for my calling -- now only to apply this all to prose's manifold challenges.
This thread also shows some variation in the extrinsic dialect, which adds to my interest in the stories. Some of your posts have required more work than I was willing to do in order to parse the grammatical and vocabulary idiosyncrasies. But a few of these statements here seem downright direct and personable. :)
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Curious about these "grammatical and vocabulary idiosyncrasies" which work and don't work. Sometimes we social beings, I for sure, are unaware of such distinctions about our own creative composition methods. For parallels, a sibling brutally recently reminded me of my social errors, faults, and follies, never mind the sib as much did so by same and similar error, fault, and folly, yet nothing constructive or new revealed on either part. About my grammar and vocabulary idiosyncrasies -- please elaborate, more so, please, what does work.
Posted by Scot (Member # 10427) on :
The reference to a brutal sibling makes a little worried that my comment came across wrong. I know I'm similar to the hypocritical characterization, since my language also leaves people confused sometimes. But I hope my post didn't leave a feeling of brutality or even of sarcasm, and if it did, I apologize.

I'm also not sure about your request, extrinsic, since the various threads make it clear that you excel at language analysis. Other eyes on our work can be helpful, of course, but I wonder if you aren't teasing me - like a doctoral student asking some guy off the street to review his thesis. "No really - I need your help. I need to know how this comes across to simpletons." :)

But I'm arrogant enough to believe what I do might be helpful, so here's a quote from one of your relatively recent posts. It's not one of the passages that I stopped trying to work through, but it gives the extrinsic-flavor pretty well.

To each evaluator the selection and evaluation; note though, that subtext ironies sublimely stand up and take names from a liminal concealment blind targeted at a selected cognitive aptitude facility. Practical irony aesthetics, in particular, intend concealment such that a superficial dramatic action occupies attention, while a concealed congruent subtext dramatic action subversively persuades social adjustment.
The phrases about "a limited concealment blind targeted at a selected cognitive aptitude facility" and "a concealed congruent subtext dramatic action" are the most extrinsic-esque, I think -- long strings of nouns. I used to think that you were accidentally leaving out commas, but somewhere along the line I accepted that it was deliberate, as was not using any connective-tissue wording to help clarify the noun phrase.

The project to struggle free of the babble-idiolect seems admirable to me. But as you've noted, when you refuse to speak a group's language, you're refusing to communicate with them. Maybe that's what an artist is supposed to do -- pioneer new trails. But while I can enjoy Dubliners, I can't stand Finnegan's Wake.

I'm not sure if any of this was helpful. But if you want, I can try to give some better feedback.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
If Hatrack discussion focus is about the writing craft and understood as subjective to an individual opinion position, I believe no personal slight rises above unintended, choose to believe so anyway, for to maintain low tones and mellow.

Understood highfalutin language can appear the negative shades of condescension, or in the alternative, perhaps is for a rhetorical function and purpose other than befuddlement and exclusion.

The Socratic method, for example, used much in teach-learn circles of any kind, not only the academy, persuades by examples of other as yet unconsidered methods offered for consideration and left to a recipient's discretion what to do about whatever. The social impetus to do as others do, due to some reason, good or ill, is a Socratic method influence -- countered by the adage do as I say, not as I do.

Also, though word processor grammar checkers disapprove of long noun strings, and grammar handbooks, for being dull to read, such "fat writing" and wordiness entails a hyperbole irony, of overstatement. Several rhetorical figures and schemes of addition label types of such overstatement though not when they are apt or inapt nor how to distinguish which from which, perissologia, synomia, and pleonasm, to name a few. Such methods could be rhetorical virtue, grammatical vice, or both, depending on a reader's sensibilities.

For example, from Silva Rhetoricae, Synonymia: "In general, the use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds emotional force or intellectual clarity. Synonymia often occurs in parallel fashion [grammar principle, parallelism, example, broke, poor, and busted flat].
The Latin synonym, interpretatio, suggests the expository and rational nature of this figure, while another Greek synonym, congeries [to pile on for emotional charge escalation], suggests the emotive possibilities of this figure." (Bracket content per moi.)

On the other hand, pleonasm vice: "Use of more words than is necessary semantically. Rhetorical repetition that is grammatically superfluous." And perissologia vice, "In general, the fault of wordiness. More specifically, periphrasis, circumlocution, synonymia, accumulatio, or amplification carried to a fault by length or overelaborateness."

Folk remind me often, though, that my writing voice is often bombastic; some appreciate the designs and intents. However, even my target audience believes I carry excess to excess, too visible, calls undue attention to what best practice calls only apt attention to itself and is near invisible otherwise. Somewhere between apt and ample overstatement and timely contrastive understatement is an ideal. Such is the life of writing.

I still wish for comment about what works for you of my voice mannerisms.

[ April 11, 2017, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Scot (Member # 10427) on :
When you cited (and linked!) to Silva Rhetoricae, you made my day. I've been a fan of that site for a long time, but I've lost my bookmark somehow. So thank you for that!

Coming from my tech writer background, my writing preference is for concise, straightforward prose. (Which I'm learning may be adding to my generic-ness and incurable -ing-ness.) So in your posts, the thing I appreciate most is the sheer content. You have so much to share that I always look forward to reading your analyses. However I also always struggle with them. Often I ask myself when I'm reading them, "What is he saying? Is that what he's saying? Why didn't he just say that?"

So in the current thread, I liked this more direct expression:

And yet I'm unsatisfied by either show or tell applied for those ends. Instead, I strive for both and a third space of counterthrust and riposte. All personas are heroes, nemeses, villains, and distress victims in my world view, in that we are as we are and stuck sleepwalking the way we are until each encounters the great transformative change, if ever, that is the purpose of existence -- the meaning of life.
Of course, I also like it because it mentions sword stuff. :)
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
The "sword stuff" is, of course, metaphor. The rhetorical design of that excerpt is personal, direct, and metaphorical expression, both incidental and extended, the metaphorical -- or rhetorical situation -- designed to enhance the literal meaning and lend specificity and dynamism to an otherwise flat and static declaration statement.

Phrases like "third space" readers often balk at, due to being somewhat New-age hippyish and philosophical psybabble junk seeming. I use the term in a shorthand derivation from social sciences theories that "space" is a social performance setting. Or as the great bard wrote -- All the world's a stage.

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

Jaques to Duke Senior

"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Thank you for the elaborations.

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