Syntax Practice 24/1/2022

  1. Analyse the writers’ use of passive verb construction and repetition in the following examples (italics mine):

a. We are made kind by being kind.
Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, 77

b. They sailed and trailed and flew and raced and crawled and walked and were carried, finally, home.
John Knowles, Indian Summer, 4

a. Repetition is used to achieve sentence focus. Usually, in short sentences writers tend to use key words to imply a certain idea. In this case the writer is repeating the use of the word "kind". It adds to the power of persuasion, and this sentence is arguable and people could have different perspectives of kindness; however, with the use of repetition the writer is persuading the reader to agree with this statement.

b. Passive verb construction tends to not have a clear subject which is paired with the verbs, in this case "they" would be the subject, but it is not emphasised who they are. They could be sailors, pilots, soldiers etc.. It creates space for the reader to create their own understanding of the sentence, this is called syntactical closure.

  1. Analyse the speaker’s use of parallelism and sentence length in the following example:

a. All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, January 20, 1961

a. Parallelism is a technique which aims to balance the sentences written, this leads us to think that they are of equal importance. Sentence is fairly equal throughout the example; however, the last sentence is a short sentence. More importantly, the short sentence is put after a long sentence. This is relevant because it shifts the reader's attention but what is interesting about this sentence we do not know the subject, so when Kennedy said this we did not know what he was implying just that we have to begin now or it will never end, which is what is being said in the final sentence.

  1. Find an online advertisement containing visuals and 2-5 sentences. Copy the copy (see definition #3 here) to your blog and add a hyperlink to the full advertisement. Answer the following guiding question in 300 - 500 words:

How is syntax used to persuade the reader?

** The power of syntax is usually looked over when analysing language and literature, we usually turn to what we are comfortable with such as diction and tone. Syntax is the study of the way words are arranged and how this affects the reader. It affects us without noticing, the most noticeable technique is the use of a short sentence. This raises awareness in the reader’s mind that whatever has been said achieves focus and has importance. It is the most effective way to grab a reader’s attention and persuade them to agree with what the writer is trying to say. The power of persuasion is most famously used in repetition, when we hear a word said repeatedly, we assume that it is of some importance. “You”, when we read the pronoun once we do not assume that they are directly targeting us, but when we read it repeatedly we directly assume that the reader is trying to convey a message through targeting us repeatedly. This technique is usually used on an advertisement when they want you to donate, they target you many times when describing how we can help. This persuades the reader into thinking that change is in their hand. Punctuation plays a very big role in persuasion as well. Semicolons, colons, dashes etc… One connects two sentences of equal importance together; one directs the reader’s attention to the words that follow; one changes the tone of the writing. The easiest form of persuasion from these three would be the colon, this is because it is the clearest. A colon sets the expectation that closely and important information will follow. Overall, syntax is a very fluid technique that can be bent in any way a writer wants to bend it to persuade the reader.**

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