Thursday, August 12, 2010
A student recently read my work and said, "You use fragments and run-on sentences, why can't I?"
My response: "I'll fail you."
So how am I able to use single words as entire sentences and justify fragments? How can I abandon the subject+verb predicate structure. Mayhem! Craziness! People running naked in the streets!
If you follow a linguistic approach to grammar, you might say a sentence is merely an utterance, regardless of how it is constructed. An utterance is a natural unit of communication conveyed in a manner common between sender and receiver.
Still awake? Work with me here, people.
The sentence as a language unit, when it is part of an utterance, or is expressed as an independent utterance, has grammatical boundaries as well as grammatical completeness and unity.
The sentence "Hmmmm" for instance, is primarily an utterance and has none of the accepted grammatical elements we associate with a sentence, such as subject and verb predicate. It is merely an onomatopoeia. However, used alone as an utterance, it may be allowed a grammatical completeness and therefore has the grammatical boundary of the period.
I'm not suggesting we abandon traditional grammar. However, writers need to pace their content, delivering words with a 'feel' or rhythm. Varying sentence structure, and how a sentence is delivered is critical in keeping the reader involved.