Written English?

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Gregjam
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Written English?

Post by Gregjam » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:44 am

The following from todays Bangkok Post extracted from an interview with Oliver Stone about his Snowden movie.

"(The information in the film) is quite advanced, and is not necessarily easy to come by. I remind you that not many people have talked about the inner working of the NSA (National Security Agency), and (Mr Snowden) is the first whistle-blower with a lot of evidence."

Am I alone in finding these sentences adorned with unnecessary brackets and questionable punctuation.

Can anyone enlighten me in regard to this. I am not an English teacher but am English so read it as a native speaker rather than being fully aware of the rules of grammar. I am not trying to reignite the UK English versus the rest antagonism, just looking for an explanation and would not be surprised if it is my lack of formal grammar education which is at fault.

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Re: Written English?

Post by PBbeacher » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:11 am

As it was taken from a verbal quote, I assume that the words in brackets were inserted to make the meaning clear to readers and were not what was actually said in the interview, i.e.:

(The information in the film) = "it" or similar was most likely actually said.
(National Security Agency) - inserted for clarity as readers may not be familiar with the NSA abbreviation.
(Mr Snowden) = "he" or similar was most likely actually said.

That's how I read it anyway.

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Re: Written English?

Post by RCer » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:19 am

PBbeacher wrote:As it was taken from a verbal quote, I assume that the words in brackets were inserted to make the meaning clear to readers and were not what was actually said in the interview, i.e.:

(The information in the film) = "it" or similar was most likely actually said.
(National Security Agency) - inserted for clarity as readers may not be familiar with the NSA abbreviation.
(Mr Snowden) = "he" or similar was most likely actually said.

That's how I read it anyway.
I agree.

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Re: Written English?

Post by robcar » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:51 am

I agree too.

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barrys
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Re: Written English?

Post by barrys » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:08 pm

I also agree totally regarding the brackets.

As regards the punctuation, the comma before 'and' in the first sentence should not be there.
'And' is a conjunction and its function is therefore to conjoin two clauses in a sentence, especially as the subject (i.e. 'the information in the film') is the same for both verbs in this sentence.
In contrast, a comma creates a slight break between different parts of a sentence in order to make the meaning clear by grouping and separating words, phrases and clauses.
In the second sentence, the comma is therefore also superfluous before 'and', unless it is meant to be understood as consciously creating a brief dramatic pause.

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J.J.B.
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Re: Written English?

Post by J.J.B. » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:40 pm

barrys wrote:I also agree totally regarding the brackets.

As regards the punctuation, the comma before 'and' in the first sentence should not be there.
'And' is a conjunction and its function is therefore to conjoin two clauses in a sentence, especially as the subject (i.e. 'the information in the film') is the same for both verbs in this sentence.
In contrast, a comma creates a slight break between different parts of a sentence in order to make the meaning clear by grouping and separating words, phrases and clauses.
In the second sentence, the comma is therefore also superfluous before 'and', unless it is meant to be understood as consciously creating a brief dramatic pause.
Ooh, yes and no Barrys. It is now quite acceptable to use punctuation to help readers understand where to insert a pause, especially when transcribing speech. Some purists would argue that 'and' should rarely be used as a full stop can be inserted followed by a new sentence. Like it or not, English is a constantly evolving language and the 'rules' we learned at school must evolve too.
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Re: Written English?

Post by Gregjam » Fri Oct 07, 2016 3:18 pm

Thank you for the responses, very informative. I do however feel this is another case of changing the level of the article to meet the lowest common denominator. Surely the word "he" would have been sufficient considering the subject which had already been explained. I did not quote the whole paragraph but had "it" been used instead of a comment in brackets which basically repeats content from earlier in the paragraph I am sure most readers would have understood it. Obviously The fact that I raised a cmment on this meant that I did not have anthing important to do this morning.
Not being aware whether this article is syndicated or not I suppose that as it was in the Bangkok Post you can reasonably assume that English is not the first language of many readers and I should get off my high horse and recognise the target audience for the article.
So now I will get back to reading another of Lee Childs books, very easy reading and not too taxing on the brain. Looking forward to the film although However good Tom Cruise is it is difficult to picture him as the Jack Reacher of the novels.

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Re: Written English?

Post by RCer » Fri Oct 07, 2016 3:34 pm

Gregjam wrote:Thank you for the responses, very informative. I do however feel this is another case of changing the level of the article to meet the lowest common denominator.
I used to write briefings and letters to generals and CEOs.

The rule was the higher the individual was in the food chain and the more educated, the lower and simpler we had to write.

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Re: Written English?

Post by LolaBeltran » Fri Oct 07, 2016 6:25 pm

The comma before "and" in a list of items has a name.
It is called the Oxford comma and is fairly standard British usage especially in academic or formal writing. It is also the subject of much debate among grammarians. Also the term "brackets" is British usage when used on its own for what Americans call "parentheses"

[ ] these are brackets to an American ( technically square brackets.)

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Re: Written English?

Post by Gregjam » Sat Oct 08, 2016 6:58 am

So is there any difference between square brackets and curved ones other than national preference? On occasion I have used a curved bracket to create a smiley thing, :-) but does the same happen if using a square bracket (have noy found one on this ipad).

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Dannie Boy
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Re: Written English?

Post by Dannie Boy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:58 am

I have all three on my iPad ( [ { you need to click the .?123 button for the ( and then the #+= button for the [ & {

LolaBeltran
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Re: Written English?

Post by LolaBeltran » Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:32 am

Parentheses (round brackets) . . . just "brackets" in British usage
Brackets [square brackets]
Braces { curly brackets}
All have their own special uses especially in disciplines such as music and mathematics.
(Arent you glad you asked?)
Very rarely will us ordinary folk come across or need to use anything but parentheses/ brackets.

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Re: Written English?

Post by centermid7 » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:42 am

But sometimes (!) [exclamation point added for emphasis] these things come in handy.

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