The Power of Words: Unveiling the Speaker and Writer's Hidden Craft
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In 1888, Mark Twain reflected on the writer's special feel for words to his correspondent, George Bainton, noting that "the difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter." We recognize differences between a politician who is "willful" and one who is "willing" even though the difference does not cross word-stems or parts of speech. We recognize that being "held up" evokes different experiences depending upon whether its direct object is a meeting, a bank, or an example. Although we can notice hundreds of examples in the language where small differences in wording produce large reader effects, the authors of The Power of Words argue that these examples are random glimpses of a hidden systematic knowledge that governs how we, as writers or speakers, learn to shape experience for other human beings.
Over the past several years, David Kaufer and his colleagues have developed a software program for analyzing writing called DocuScope. This book illustrates the concepts and rhetorical theory behind the software analysis, examining patterns in writing and showing writers how their writing works in different categories to accomplish varying objectives. Reflecting the range and variety of audience experience that contiguous words of surface English can prime, the authors present a theory of language as an instrument of rhetorically priming audiences and a catalog of English strings to implement the theory. The project creates a comprehensive map of the speaker and writer's implicit knowledge about predisposing audience experience at the point of utterance.
The book begins with an explanation of why studying language from the standpoint of priming--not just meaning--is vital to non-question begging theories of close reading and to language education in general. The remaining chapters in Part I detail the steps taken to prepare a catalog study of English strings for their properties as priming instruments. Part II describes in detail the catalog of priming categories, including enough examples to help readers see how individual words and strings of English fit into the catalog. The final part describes how the authors have applied the catalog of English strings as priming tools to conduct textual research.
reading insists on never losing focus on the surface text, the actual words priming the reader, even as the reader interprets the words and transforms them into situated 3 Chapter 1 readings. In the literary tradition, the close reader, as normative model, can read as a writer, can spot the writer’s magical tricks that allow readers to forget they are reading. The Oxford critic I. A. Richards is widely credited for coining the term, using it synonymously with the term practical criticism in a
writer to write), the metafunctions become active and the language user confronts further choices down the line within each metafunction. The subsystems serving each higher metafunction become active to determine the arrangement of words, the syntax, of each sentence. For example, once a speaker wants to make a reference (e.g., a cat), the speaker invokes the ideational metafunction. This metafunction involves cascading choices within the transitivity system of English grammar. The speaker who
further examples of strings priming immediacy: starting today, effective today, as of this day, right now, had just been, still sees her, even as we speak, currently has, right here, right this moment, right this month, now accomplished, now announce, now at hand, now hear this. Immediacy is not only the inside experience of time, but the feel of ongoing and direct relevance, even when it comes from a time interval that started a long way back. The string ever since provides a connective tissue
Already indicates a belief that the audience has been waiting for an event to be completed, that it is now complete, and that the audience has yet to be told. 246. Mom, I’ve already got a job! (appropriate if mom has been tracking my getting a job, I have a job, and no one has told her) To understand the subjective-temporal timbre of already, consider its objective counterpart, which is has since been. Has since been anchors the event completed to an objective past event without regard for the
(result/cause of 1 and 2). A prescribed revision, keeping within a consistent chain of reason forward strings, would be: 368. Congress did not anticipate inflation when it voted for the highway. As a result, when the highway was constructed, the project ran into financial problems. Note the difference between as a result — a string carrying the audience forward — and as a result of — a string taking the audience back. 369. I lost my job. As a result, I can't help you. (As a result...moves the