More Sentences About the Sentence

It is not by accident that our recently-inaugurated President, Barack Obama,  is such a powerful orator,  on the lines of a Ronald Reagan,  a Franklin D. Roosevelt,  a Theodore Roosevelt, perhaps even an Abraham Lincoln, the latter being the American President whom Mr. Obama obviously most admires.

I heard or read a comment recently that Mr. Obama’s strength as an orator lies in the structure, the rhythm, and the sense conveyed via his declarative sentences.

In the March 16 issue of “Time,”  the musician Neko Case offers  short observations about five of her recent readings or viewings.  A writer she much admires is Annie Dillard (whose earlier book,  “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” is often praised for both its style and its marvelous descriptions of the natural world).  Case says this about Dillard’s “The Living”:  “The way she constructs a sentence is so beautiful and simple.  She doesn’t write like a man or a woman.  That’s a kind of balance that’s totally sublime.”


Here’s now a writer and also probably an editor that need some help.  Why is this sentence (it appeared in the “what we’re hearing” column a couple of days ago)  such a shoddy representative of the English declarative sentence, and what would you do to improve it–without any substantive changes?  The observation is about the actress Lucy’s Liu’s talents as an artist:  “The New York Post reports the ‘Charlie’s Angel’ star painted an acrylic portrait of two people kissing under the pseudonym Yu Ling.”

No prizes, but I will pay attention to your comments.



2 Responses to “More Sentences About the Sentence”

  1. Number Two Says:

    Unless you know how to hang a pseudonym, the original sentence will not work.

    The New York Post reports the ‘Charlie’s Angel’ star, under the pseudonym Yu Ling, painted an acrylic portrait of two people kissing.

  2. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Yes! Number Two, you are right! And I was remiss in replying until in your April Fool’s message you made a reveal of your anguish and fear that your own father either did not want to honor you or did not wish to own up to what his second son had contributed. I may well fall on my pencil in shame . . . . Ack! Ack!


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