Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Texting & Parallelism: A Crash Course in Style

So last week my friend Humboldt sent me & another friend, Raven a text predicting his post-game mood after watching the Titans lose to the Vikings. Raven was having a get together at her place and he said, “I’ll be happy on the outside but on the inside I’m dying.” This struck me as interesting because, even though the idea was presented clearly, it lacked parallelism. Jonathan’s a lawyer, and even though writing is not his forte, I’m surprised he didn’t bisect his thoughts automatically. 

It should have read “I’ll be happy on the outside but dying on the inside.” This aligns “happy” and “dying” at the beginning of their respective phrases as well as putting “outside” and “inside” at the end of the phrases. That creates a sentence rhythm that’s more satisfying to the ear. Symmetry is significant in writing just as much as in art, architecture, and mathematics. 

Of course, writing, just as any other field, benefits from strategic asymmetry, but it must be done elegantly. And it must be used to emphasize a specific point at a specific moment in the text. Now, I'm not interested in correcting people's texts, Facebook posts, or any other forms of casual conversation. Text and speak how you want. I just happened to notice this slight style error and thought it'd make for an interesting talking point.

No comments: