Author Topic: Do you agree?  (Read 13150 times)

Justine A.

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 93
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Do you agree?
« on: August 02, 2021, 11:49:47 PM »
1. Do you agree that “Yes.” cannot be considered as a sentence? I heard from an English professor, saying that a sentence should at least contain three words and that sentence should follow an S-V-O pattern.

2. Do you agree that a sentence must contain as much as possible 20 words to be clear, simple and direct?

3.What is your take on the thought that interjection should not be considered as part of the speech.  It is just “a noisy utterance like the cry of an animal” (F.J. Rahtz)

Joe Carillo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4676
  • Karma: +210/-2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Do you agree?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2021, 09:26:14 PM »
My reply to Forum member Justine A.'s questions above:

I'm delighted to hear from you again after quite a long while, Justine. You must have been pretty occupied with your work these past few months.

1. My answer to your first question is a categorical "No!"; I definitely diasagree with that English professor's declaration that “Yes” can't be considered as a sentence. The argument that a sentence "should at least contain three words and... should follow an S-V-O pattern" sounds so old school and so persnickety to me, so I presume that that English professor maybe way over his or her senior citizen year--not that I am not anywhere in that age bracket yet--or if he is a fresh AB English graduate, he or she must have been taught college English by a retiring senior citizen professor who had already filed for retirement right after that AB English student's last semester before graduating.

                                        IMAGE CREDIT: THENEWWIFESTYLE.COM

If I sound so vehemently scandalized and even aggrieved by that English professor's overly fastidious and wrongheaded grammar pronouncement, it's because it goes against the grain of the very definition of the term "sentence." My Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines a "sentence" as--let's hold our breath--"a word, clause, or phrase or a group of clauses or phrases forming a syntactic unit which expresses an assertion, a question, a command, a wish, an exclamation, or the performance of an action, that in writing usually begins with a capital letter and concludes with appropriate end punctuation, and that in speaking is distinguished by characteristic patterns of stress, pitch, and pauses."

The first two words of that definition--"a word"--already qualifies "Yes" as a sentence because although it's a single word, it is naturally written or uttered by someone in response to an understood subject and verb associated with it--aspects that can be taken from the surrounding context of the written or uttered "Yes" that, of course, perfectly satisifies that English professor's demand that "Yes"--if it indeed qualifies as a sentence--"should follow an S-V-O pattern." The implied "I agree with that" in a "Yes" reply definitely meets that English professor's demand that it "follow an S-V-O pattern" and even exceeds that basic pattern with an extra word. 

2. As to your second question, I definitely and totally disagree that "that a sentence must contain as much as possible 20 words to be clear, simple and direct." If it is the same English professor in Item 1 who also said that, I honestly think he or she should be reported to the school's dean or principal to be reprimanded for being so grossly misinformed about how long or short can sentences be. (I suggest you send him or her this link to my Forum posting on “How long should a sentence be to effectively deliver an idea?”)     

3. As to your third question, Justine, I won't be drawn to an argument with anyone who thinks "that interjection should not be considered as a part of speech" for being just “a noisy utterance like the cry of an animal.” I am content and won't quibble with my Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary's definition of an interjection as "an ejaculatory utterance usually lacking grammatical connection: as  a : a word or phrase used in exclamation (as 'Heavens!' 'Dear me!'{)  b : a cry or inarticulate utterance (as 'Alas! ouch! phooey! ugh!') expressing an emotion." This part of speech and its definition has served me well and never failed me in all the years that I've been using English interjections to express my shock or delight over the many unexpected things that most everyone encounters in life.

Have a pleasant and safe evening, Justine!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 03:41:49 PM by Joe Carillo »

Justine A.

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 93
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Do you agree?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2021, 01:36:26 PM »
To be exact, that professor is an legal writing professor from a very prestigious law school. All those grammar beliefs came from that professor.

According to her also, the word "counsel" is singular. Do you agree?
« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 01:48:16 PM by Justine A. »

Joe Carillo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4676
  • Karma: +210/-2
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Do you agree?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2021, 10:09:50 PM »
Frankly, Justine, owing to her very straitlaced and draconian beliefs on writing and English grammar, I'd be very reluctant to attend her legal writing class. But then I'm not a lawyer and have not dreamed nor aimed to be one, so perhaps there are aspects of the language or of legalese that she knows so intimately but for which I have really no need in my present station in life.

As to the word "counsel," I'm mystified that she considers it singular, which is exactly the opposite of the number assigned to it by my Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary. Take a look:

Main Entry: counsel
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English conseil, from Anglo-French cunseil, from Latin consiliuxactlym, from consulere to consult
Date: 13th century

1 a : advice given especially as a result of consultation  b : a policy or plan of action or behavior
2 : DELIBERATION, CONSULTATION
3 a archaic   : PURPOSE  b : guarded thoughts or intentions
4 a plural    counsel  (1) : a lawyer engaged in the trial or management of a case in court  (2) : a lawyer appointed to advise and represent in legal matters an individual client or a corporate and especially a public body  b : CONSULTANT 2

These are all I can say about the matter.

Justine A.

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 93
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Do you agree?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2021, 11:27:17 PM »
Since the lecture was related to my work, I obligated myself to attend to the event.

Surprisingly, the belief of the professor on the 20-word average sentence length is supported by recently published book on legal writing. Do you have any idea about the origin of that prescription? I have the impression that this is the kind of training every law professor instills in law students on writing legal documents.