Class assigned blog post number 2.
These chapters focus on adjectivals, verbals, and appositives and absolutes. So far, we’re still reviewing.
In chapter 6, Bacon begins by talking about how we tend to use a lot more adjectives in our writing than in conversation. When we talk to people, we usually share a similar knowledge base, so adjectives are less necessary, but when we write, we have no idea who will read our writing and what they know, so we add adjectives to add specificity (Bacon, 93). I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it makes total sense.
We wrote our first paper this week, and as I was writing it, I couldn’t help but notice how many adjectives I used. Actually, now that I know we usually use more adjectives in writing, I’m not only hyper-aware of what I’m doing as I write, but I also am starting to really not like my own writing. I wonder why that is. Perhaps it’s because the more I know about how and why I write the way I do, the more I realize how terrible it actually is, but it’s hard to break bad habits, so I do them anyway. (Speaking of things I’m hyper-aware of: As I was writing my first paper, I realized I used the correlative conjunction “not only/but also” all the time. It took a lot of effort cutting back on that.)
I’m actually more than a little upset by chapter 7. In chapter 7, Bacon says there are three varieties of verbal phrases: past participle, present participle, and infinitive (Bacon, 110). I’m upset because she left out the gerund. But it’s not just that. She goes on to say that verbals can be used as subjects, objects, complements, and adjectives. Yes, they can. I agree. Except she missed the gerund, which is the only verbal that can be used as a subject or object. See, participles are verbal adjectives and gerunds are verbal nouns. Both of them end in -ing (except past participle, I guess), but they are not the same thing at all.
I don’t know why that upsets me. I mean, how relevant grammar really is depends on the rhetorical context, right? It doesn’t really matter if we call it a participle or a gerund, right? Actually, I guess that’s why I’m bothered. Here I am, reading this book that masquerading as a text book telling me the wrong thing. If it weren’t supposed to be informational, I’d be less offended. If the rhetorical context were different, I’d probably have let it slide. Vive le gerund. /rant
Also in chapter 7, Bacon talks about dangling modifiers, beginning the section with an anecdote about a stereotypical English teacher harping on dangling modifiers. This paragraph was funny to me because she goes on to say, “The other children feel sorry for the mortified young writer, but they can’t help snickering as they think about how to deploy the word dangling during recess” (Bacon, 119.) I mean, seriously, come on. Who learns about dangling modifiers when they are still young enough to be having recess?
Chapter 8 is about appositives and absolutes. I’m actually still a little fuzzy on absolutes. Bacon doesn’t really give a solid definition. (To the interwebs!) According to Purdue OWL, an absolute phrase is “a phrase that modifies a noun and is connected to a sentence without the use of a conjunction.” Okay, so that’s still a little unclear, but now we can combine it with the little information that Bacon did give us. Absolute phrases also start with a noun and usually “modify the sentence as a whole” (Bacon, 134). Okay. And with some examples, it because easier to understand. Let’s see if I can come up with my own example: “Oedipus emerged from the temple, eyes bleeding.” In this case, “eyes bleeding” would be the absolute. It starts with a noun and modifies the sentence and is not connected with a conjunction. Why is it called absolute? That makes no sense. But upon further investigation, I’ve discovered another piece to the puzzle. An absolute is a noun + participle + any other modifiers or objects. That makes more sense.
Anyway, I’m off to work on a project about Greek theater and staging. (I should come up with a really cool sign-off phrase.)