Rhetoric for Academics

23 April 2011 at 4:21 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

Some professors could definitely use these pointers on rhetoric from the Art of Manliness blog. Women professors too. (Via LRC.)

Addendum: V.S. Naipaul’s Rules for Beginners (via 3quarks):

1. Do not write long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.

2. Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.

3. Do not use big words. If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.

4. Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.

5. The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible.

6. Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete.

7. Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way. Small words; short, clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Teaching. Tags: .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Gerard  |  24 April 2011 at 8:36 pm

    A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words?

    Which is it?

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  24 April 2011 at 11:00 pm

    The limit is eleven, but he’s including a +/- one word confidence interval.

  • 3. Rafe  |  25 April 2011 at 12:25 am

    Use Hemingway as your model, not Faulkner.
    Actually he can’t count, he is just guessing about the number. Of words in an acceptable sentence.

  • 4. srp  |  25 April 2011 at 12:39 am

    Hulk smash silly writing advice!

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