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16.6: Exercises

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    1. Rewrite these passages to make the “characters” the grammatical subjects and the key “actions” the verbs. That is, make them clearer.A. The scarcity of research funds for nutritional scientists means that offers by food companies to fund such research may be especially attractive. The implicit pressure to shape the language of the findings to avoid alienation between scholars and companies is worrisome to consider.B. While educational experiences are an obvious benefit of tribal colleges, the needs tribal communities have for economic development, cultural vitality, and social ties are also addressed by educational institutions.
    2. Take these straightforward passages and make them less clear without changing the meaning. Turn verbs into nouns and make subjects into objects.A. “Statisticians prepared to use spatial models need to keep the role of the models in perspective. When scientific interest centers on the large-scale effects, the idea is to use a few extra small-scale parameters so that the large-scale parameters are estimated more efficiently.”17B. “Social scientists will be led astray if they accept the lies organizations tell about themselves. If, instead, they look for places where the stories told don’t hold up, for the events and activities those speaking for the organization ignore, cover up, or explain away, they will find a wealth of things to include in the body of material from which they construct their definitions.”18
    3. Edit these passages for concision, using the three moves described above. Be sure to preserve all of the meaning contained in the original.A. Each and every student enrolled in our educational institutions deserves and is entitled to competent instruction in all of the key academic areas of study. No student should be without ample time and help in mastering such basic skills.B. If you really have no choice in regards to avoiding a long and extended bureaucratic process in making your complaint, it is very important that you write down and document every aspect of the case for use by all of the parties involved in the process.

    other resources

    1. Richard Lanham’s popular book (Revising Prose, 5th ed., New York: Longman, 2006) offers a well specified method for turning academese into clear, straightforward language. The Online Writing Laboratory at Purdue University offers a short handoutabout Lanham’s method.
    2. Several writing centers at colleges and universities offer good advice for spotting and avoiding clichés. Among the most useful are those at the University of Richmond, Foothill College, and the University of Texas.


    1Michael Harvey,The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2003), 3.

    2 Variously attributed to Albert Einstein, E.F. Schumacher, and Woody Guthrie.

    3Williams and Bizup, Style, 29.

    4 Let this example further demonstrate why you should never, ever even look at these websites.

    5Encyclopædia Britannica, s.v. “Magna Carta.”

    6Aletta D. Kraneveld and others, “The two faces of mast cells in food allergy and allergic asthma: The possible concept of Yin Yang,” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1822 (2012): 96.

    7 When you turn a verb into a noun it’s called a nominalization. For example, act  action, write  writings, or think  thought.

    8Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America’s Changing Families(New York: Basic Books, 1997), 34.

    9Harvey, Nuts and Bolts, 1.

    10 Especially, Williams, Harvey, and Lanham; see “other resources” for full references.

    11Williams and Bizup, Style, 130.

    12Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life (Boston, MA: Back Bay Books, 2011), 1. This book is a great read.

    13Talcott Parsons and Edward Shills eds., Toward a General Theory of Action. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), 105.

    14 “Rhetoric” refers to how meaning is overtly or subtly built into the structure of language. In everyday language we often use the word rhetoric to describe speech or writing devoid of substance, but that’s not what the word means. This section describes often used structures identified and explained by rhetoricians.

    15Williams and Bizup, Style, 171.

    16Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (New York: Random House, 2013), 328.

    17Noel A.C. Cressie, Statistics for Spatial Data (New York: Wiley, 1991), 435.

    18Howard S. Becker, Tricks of the Trade: How To Think About Your Research While You’re Doing It (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 118.

    This page titled 16.6: Exercises is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Amy Guptill.

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