Hmmmmm...

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Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#1  Postby Gee.S » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:15 pm

If you encountered this passage in print, would you keep reading or set it on fire?

Beyond these palpable issues, the broad range and influence of pre-Columbian cultivars ultimately lead one to question what indiscernible past anthropogenic impact may obfuscate the deceptively concise delineation we envision between naturally occurring Agave and cultivar. Perhaps we should refrain before trundling too far down a rabbit hole of philosophic imperative.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#2  Postby Azuleja » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:33 pm

Word salad.
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#3  Postby Gee.S » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:02 am

LOL I know what I was trying to say, but I'm not sure it can actually be said... Then I read it and lolled.

I'd take another stab at it, but I'm afraid I'd hurt myself.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#4  Postby mickthecactus » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:35 am

You wrote that? I’m impressed even though I don’t understand it!

(Gave up after line 2)
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#5  Postby toditd » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:44 am

I tried running that through Google Translate, but that wasn't much help. :lol:
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#6  Postby Gee.S » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:44 am

^ Wish I would have thought of that.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#7  Postby DesertDweller » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:35 pm

As with many things, it depends on the intended audience. Most academic writing isn't exactly user friendly, but that is apparently the way academics like it. One of my professors in graduate school often commented that some authors' journal articles were only understood by the author and a few select folks, and that he was not one of them! :lol:

On the other hand, in the office, I am constantly facing the opposite dilemma, namely that one has to dumb down just about everything, to varying degrees. Trying to explain a negative binomial hurdle model to someone in marketing whose only education is something like "family studies" is not at all uncommon. Likewise, we have been told by legal and compliance that our customer facing letters need to be written at a third grade level. We're not allowed to use words like "ratio" because that is too complicated. No, I am not exaggerating either, that is a specific example the compliance folks gave us. :?

Some folks will invariably get things on the first pass, others may not ever, despite your best efforts. Case in point, I once sat in a room with a dozen other graduate degree holding stats people, watching them agonize over a single PowerPoint slide for at least an hour, since it was going to be shown to senior leadership. When the final version was presented to our visiting SVP, no lie, first words out of his mouth were "I don't get it." :lol:

All that said, I'd answer the original question by saying that while I get it and I would keep reading, I don't know how good a proxy I am for the intended audience. :D
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#8  Postby Gee.S » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:49 pm

DesertDweller wrote:All that said, I'd answer the original question by saying that while I get it and I would keep reading, I don't know how good a proxy I am for the intended audience. :D

Care to take a stab at it? I've rewritten it now, and while the new version is more comprehensible, it's still sorta dancing on the edge.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#9  Postby toditd » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:01 pm

Oh, what the heck, this might be fun. I'll take a stab at a thought translation. It might let you know if your thoughts were getting through or not to someone who should have a higher than third grade reading level.

Ha, I thought I had a hint of what you meant. But I had troubles translating it, which must have meant that I didn't really have a clue. I studied your original passage a bit (quite a bit) longer and came up with this:

One might expect to see a clear distinction between naturally occurring agaves and cultivated agaves. However, a clear distinction between the two does not exist. So we might ask: What influence did pre-Columbians have that caused this narrowing distinction between natural and cultivated agaves? But that is a question not so easily answered.
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#10  Postby Gee.S » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:17 pm

^ Very good! And close enough, I'd say. Here is my second attempt at diluting science with philosophy, though I omitted the philosophy reference this time.

Beyond these palpable issues, the extensive range and influence of pre-Columbian cultivars ultimately lead one to question to what degree our tenuous grasp of the distinction between naturally occurring and domestic Agave represents a false dichotomy. In the end, who is to say which Agaves are free of anthropogenic influence and which are not? In 1911, famed botanist William Trelease noted of A. applanata, "Long cultivated, but of doubtful origin, and greatly misunderstood because of the difference between juvenile, moderately developed, and mature plants". Anthropogenic influence may have played an extensive role in Agave distribution and evolution for thousands of years throughout the Sonoran Desert and beyond. With rare exception, we only suspect those examples of domestication that demonstrate reproductive handicaps.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#11  Postby toditd » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:51 pm

For me, and I'm sure for others, your second attempt is much clearer then your initial passage! And far less strain on the brain cells. :)) (Although, it is good to exercise them every now and then.)
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#12  Postby Gee.S » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:00 pm

I have this unfortunate habit of trying to pare down to the fewest number of words possible. Sometimes, I get carried away. :))
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#13  Postby Azuleja » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:17 pm

Oh, much better! Sorry, I only read comic books.
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#14  Postby bigdaddyscondition » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:28 am

Gee, I appreciate your sense of humor. They say the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem. Hey, just kidding :lol:

I have written for national publications, have written a book, and edited countless op-eds, none of them having to do with gardening or my profession of surgery. In the course of learning how to write I consulted many texts, including Strunk and White's Elements of Style (OK, but definitely not the Bible), the Chicago Manual of Style (you've got to be a special kind of obsessive to read that), and others. The guide that I found most useful was "Style: Toward Clarity and Grace" by Joseph M. Williams, University of Chicago Press. This book will tell you how to avoid puffery, verbosity, and the wickedly deliberate bandying about of jargon and the confusion it sows in the minds of your readers. I know those very qualities are primary goals of academic writers, but in my opinion you are better than that.

I cringe when I read now the first essay I actually published in the mid-1990s. My message was timely and well-thought out, but it was couched in turgid, pretentious language that must have anesthetized anyone brave enough to read past the first page. Over the years I learned better. I learned to write in the active voice, to avoid nominalization, to pare down unnecessary and redundant verbiage, and to spice up my language with active constructions instead of abstractions. In other words, make your message simple but not dumbed down, engaging but not showy, and direct but not dull.
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#15  Postby Gee.S » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:22 am

Thanks, terrific advice! I actually earned a decent living at one time as a freelance writer and copy editor. But it was just technical writing. I used to write software reviews for Ziff Davis Publishing, and the style was to convey as much information in as few words as humanly possible. While I never considered myself an especially gifted writer, that style was a very good fit for me, and of course I honed that style to sharp precision over a period of a few years. Unfortunately, that style does not lend itself well to my current project, and old habits die hard. I'll pick up the Williams text, it can only help.
Agave
"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Hmmmmm...

Post Number:#16  Postby bigdaddyscondition » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:21 pm

The University of Chicago seems to have a claim to authority in these matters. Here's a list of U of C Press writing guides to various styles of professional writing http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books ... CGWEP.html . You might find one suitable for the kind of writing you're doing. In the list is author Bryan Garner, whose "A Dictionary of Modern American Usage" is one of my go-to references.
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