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#7568 - 10/10/00 10:14 AM Speaking in sentences
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
Hello all. Back after a bit of an odyssey, and thought you might like to tilt at this…

I wonder how many of us here speak in sentences? How many, if any, even attempt to do so?

I think this stems partly from a passage I read in David Crystal's "Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language": a transcript from the Watergate Tapes. The particular passage I refer to is apparently the crucial one in which Nixon (or one of his senior aides) actually makes the incriminating statements regarding bribes and other shady deals. The transcript itself could not convey, of course, intonation, pause length, rising tones and the like. Even so, as purely written language, it was well nigh incomprehensible. I presume that whoever prosecuted the Watergate affair (in the media and otherwise), could not have relied upon the transcripts themselves, since they seem virtually to be gibberish, but used the tapes themselves, where the voices would, perhaps, help make some sense possible.

I have also read works in which people have been praised for speaking in complete sentences. I believe Oscar Wilde may have been one such recipient of kudos.

Finally (why are my preambles longer than my posts?), in a former life, I used to make a fair number of presentations, and was once told that people were intimidated by them, because I used 'long words' when I spoke.

On a Board like this, as we might say, the sesquipedalian attitude is the prevalent one, and most classic English literature doesn't shy away from it either. So it was a surprise to me to discover that most people regard me as I (when a child) regarded grown ups - they used long words like oxygen and democracy, and so they seemed to be speaking a different language.

Yes, I confess, I do try to speak in sentences. I often, since I also have the habit of changing my mind mid-sentence, also get into the most convoluted periods. No doubt we have all seen these parodied in works that contain dialogue like: "So now, you see, I know that she knows that I know what she thinks I think…. I think."

So - how many of you speak in sentences, or try to? And do people think you're strange if you do?

cheer

the sunshine warrior



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#7569 - 10/10/00 10:27 AM Re: Speaking in sentences
RhubarbCommando Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
Yes, I tend to speak in sentences - obviously so when I'm speaking to an audience, but also in private life. What tends to go - or tends to be different, perhaps - is the use of grammatical constructions. For speech, I have no qualms about using prepositions to end my sentences with, or all the other things that have been YARTed to death and back in this forum.

My main problem these days - with advancing years - is that I, from time to time, find myself stuck for a word, which can really mess up your sentence construction.

For really snappy complete spoken sentences, you can't beat a good imperative: "Go."
For a short while, I worked as a dog handler and found the imperatives used there were very satisfactory


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#7570 - 10/10/00 10:36 AM Re: Speaking in sentences
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Not many.
Prob'ly.


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#7571 - 10/10/00 11:15 AM Re: Speaking in sentences
RhubarbCommando Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
True.


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#7572 - 10/10/00 11:51 AM Re: Speaking in sentences
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Oh my goodness, shanks, I knew I'd be glad of your return!

Confess I don't always use complete sentences. Depends on the atmosphere, I think. If I am trying to explain something, I use complete ones. If I'm just mouthing off
(giving my own opinion, for ex.), prob'ly not. Don't even
always use correct grammar or syntax, esp. if I'm excited about something (a frequent occurrence). One trait that you and I share, that, I think, probably drives most of my
friends crazy, is my tendency, or rather, predilection, for speaking in a very convoluted way, because often in mid-speech I will decide that bringing in an explanation is necessary.

The Watergate trial took over TV here while it was going on.
I seem to recall that they did play the tapes.


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#7573 - 10/10/00 04:25 PM Re: Speaking in sentences
Marty Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/20/00
Posts: 347
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Hi shanks,

No, I often don't speak in sentences. I think with language - both spoken and written, but more so with spoken - there's a great tendency to adopt the prevalent style, and I'm afraid to say that I'm guilty of following the mob on this point.

On a slightly different tack, I am often accused of being too verbose in my emails. I use email as a necessary part of my job, and I also correspond with a few friends using the technology. People in both groups have told me "Email is for bullet points, not essays." I disagree, particularly for social communication. My cousin in America is - I think - equally happy to receive a three-page air letter or a three page email, perhaps even happier with the email because the news is a week fresher and he can reply same day if he chooses. I make little distinction between the two media.


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#7574 - 10/10/00 04:33 PM Re: Speaking in sentences
xara Offline
member

Registered: 10/09/00
Posts: 197
Loc: cary, nc, usa
i would say that whether i speek in sentences depends on where i happen to be.
for example
at home we have our own little sub-language. sometimes complete words are not even necessary.
some times one of my biggest downfalls in a work or school setting is my tendency to fall back on such. i may begin a sentence and mid way through, i assume that my listener can infer the rest, which is not always so. i may start a sentence... 'this watch is water resistent to 100 m. so you don't have to worry about...' at which point my customer thinks 'worry about what? spilling soda? showering? scuba diving?' when infact i could have listed any of those things to accurately finish my sentence.
finishing sentences is something i make a conscience effort to do. but something i neglect because i forget that people don't know me as well as my husband or brother might.


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#7575 - 10/10/00 05:21 PM Re: Odyssey
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Hope you didn't have to fight off to many ancient beast and you didn't have too much trouble with the sails, it can be a bit choppy in the Atlantic.

Glad to see you back.

I speak in two ways:
(i) At enormous speed, with excessive detail and frequent meanderings
(ii) Staccato, with missing key nouns and other important signposts as to what on earth I mean.

My latest irritating habit is to make on of those duty calls to a member of the family whilst opening my e-mail! The other day I was discovered - I was OK until I hit a comment in AWAD and dissolved into hysterical laughter!


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#7576 - 10/11/00 01:21 AM Re: Speaking in sentences
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
Hi Shanks,
A great subject ! Proof is the copious echo you already got. I wonder if we actually know whether we speak in sentences most of the time? Because we can't review our utterings before they are broadcast, and often forget the beginning when we reach the end . One occasion when everybody notices this is when speaking to an answering machine on the 'phone: how often do you prepare those sentences in advance? e-mails are a truly new type of hybrid between the spoken and the written word.


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#7577 - 10/11/00 04:12 AM Re: Speaking in sentences
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
I have to confess that though I rarely place prepositions at the ends of my sentences (when writing), and sometimes even pay heed to the split infinitives shibboleth, I tend to do much the same when I speak. In fact, if I end a sentence with a preposition, I am more than likely to restate it (to the utter confusion and frustration of my 'audience') with the preposition in the 'correct' place. By this point, of course, I am more often than not in 'lecture' mode, and then it is impossible to stop the meandering, frequently retraced, often repeated stream of verbiage that passes for my conversational style. Ah well...

I would hate to feel that I am 'getting on in years', being only in my mid-30s, but I have to confess that I too suffer from words (that used to be so easy to retrieve) now getting lost in the thickets of my memory. As you say, the result can be a number of exceedingly convoluted sentences, or a great deal of 'whatchamacallits', 'thingummyjigs' and 'whatsfaces' peppering my speech. Alas these fallen times, and morals all agley.

cheer

the sunshine warrior


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