1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Which sentence is better and why?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Aug 17, 2014.

    Judging by rhythm, coherence, and clarity, which of the following two sentence would you say is better?

    1. When people ague with one another they cause many problems, but when they talk peacefully with one another they resolve them.

    2. From the quarrels of men are born a multitude of problems, but the sharing of peaceful words supplies their end.

    I was recently reading a book called, "Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace". In that book, the author talks about matching characters with subjects, actions with verbs, and avoiding nominalizations, saying it is best to replace them using words like, "Because", "When", etc. If my understanding is correct, the first sentence I wrote follows these rules, but the second one I wrote violates them. I think that the second one is still valid, however, and has a rhythmical sound to it, unless my ear is mistaken. If this is the case, should I do my best to follows the rules in that book, or should I take liberty to break them? It seems that writing poetic prose requires that I break certain of the rules in style books.

    Is this why modern advice about writing often urges new writers to do their best to learn the rules, and then, once they have mastered them, to break them? I have not mastered the rules, but I think I have succeeded in following and breaking them here. What is your opinion, advice, etc on the matter?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The second example sounds like a Ben Franklin quote. :p By that I mean it sounds old-fashioned. That's why I prefer the first example. My decision has nothing to do with breaking the "rules."
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Both are somewhat stuffy[sounding. I prefr the first because it has parallel structure.

    I would remove unnecessary words, and split into two sentences to emphasize the parallel structure:

     
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  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Context, context, context! I can't say which is better unless you give me the paragraphs surrounding the sentences! We need context!

    That said, the second one is bad because "the sharing of peaceful words supplies their end" doesn't make any sense.
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    The "their" refers to the quarrels, but I agree it's very confusing. There is probably a name for what is wrong there, but I don't know it.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I dislike both sentences. However, this is based on reading them out of context.
    This one suffers from "with one another" repetition which is in this case jarring, and not in a good way. I'm tempted to re-write it as "When people argue with one another, they cause many problems, but when they talk, they resolve them." Or perhaps "Arguing causes problems, talking resolves them."
    This sounds a bit like Yoda. I feel like it lacks the fluidity authentic archaic language has. As if this is your idea of what it would've sounded like, but you didn't get it quite right, so it just sounds off.
    I think you have your answer right there. It pays to master the rules, if you are to break them successfully.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dislike sentence 2. It requires way too much deciphering.

    But I like @jazzabel's "Arguing causes problems; talking resolves them." better than sentence 1. (I replaced the comma with a semicolon.)

    I like it better than what I was going to suggest: "Peaceful talk resolves the problems caused by arguing."
     
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  8. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    To me, the first sentence sounds better because it is easy to understand it.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Neither of them work for me. The first is clear but awkward and ungraceful; the second one prioritizes grace over meaning. But if I had to choose, the first is better--meaning is the highest priority.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to analyze and edit the first one:

    1. When people argue with one another they cause many problems, but when they talk peacefully with one another they resolve them.

    "with one another" is redundant--if you're arguing, you're arguing with someone else. So:

    1. When people argue they cause many problems, but when they talk peacefully with one another they resolve them.

    You generally talk with others, just as you argue with others. So:

    1. When people argue they cause many problems, but when they talk peacefully they resolve them.

    There's no meaningful difference between "many problems" and "problems". So:

    1. When people argue they cause problems, but when they talk peacefully they resolve them.

    "Talk", when contrasted with "argument", contains the implication of peace. So I think we can lose that word:

    1. When people argue they cause problems, but when they talk they resolve them.

    What argues, other than people? What talks, other than people? Nothing, really. The people are implied, so why do we need them in the sentence? So:

    Arguments cause problems. Talk resolves them.

    "Talk" is a bit unsatisfying--the contrast with "arguments" is insufficiently clear. Also, arguments is plural; talk is a collective noun. So we tweak it once more:

    Argument causes problems. Discussion resolves them.
     

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