Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Prompt 2

Here is an example of bad writing from the Eastern Michigan University Undergraduate Catalog:
The Biology Department offers a major in biology as well as providing programs in preforestry, premedicine (allopathic and osteopathic), preoptometry and prepodiatry. In addition, there is an adviser for veterinary medicine.
Modern laboratories for course work and research under personal supervision of faculty are located in the Mark Jefferson building and the Terrestrial and Aquatic Research Facility. The adjacent Loesell Field Laboratory, nearby Huron River and Ford Lake are available for field course work and research.
Here is my revised version, based on the ideas in Williams Style book:

The Biology Department offers both a major in biology and programs in preforestry, premedecine (allopathic and osteopathic), preoptometry and
prepodiatry. A veterinary medicine advisor is also available.

Faculty supervised laboratories for course work and research are located in the Mark Jefferson building and the Terrestrial and Aquatic Research Facility. The Loesell Fireld Laboratory is located near by, providing access to Huron River and
Ford Lake.

I spent a lot of time trying to find a good (applicable to Williams) example of bad writing. I finally settled on this one. I thought that the first sentence was really akward, it made my head hurt the way the Williams described. Still, I had a really hard time figuring out why, because it didn’t necessarily break any of Williams’s rules. I think the main problem is the first sentence..”as well as providing programs in”. I don’t think it needed all those words, so I just shortened it. I thought that the first blurb could have been one sentence instead of two, but I thought I would make it worse if I didn’t change it exactly the right way.
The first line of the second blurb was a turgid mess as well. I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to know at the end of it. Again, my head was hurting. It seems like a simple relocation (re-ordering)of the words fixed the problem. Like, when Williams talks about Cohesion in chapter 3 and how important it is to manage the flow of information. Also, there seems to be too many prepositional phrases in this sentence.

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