Thursday, 2 January 2014

Ten hundred words of confusing syntax

There's an interesting blog called 'Ten hundred words of science', in which people try to explain their research using only the thousand most common words of English (go to the page to find out why and how these words were determined). 

Here's a couple of screenshots: 

You'll notice that using simple words can have the unfortunate consequence of requiring very complicated syntax. The first paragraph is very hard to parse, especially that first sentence which has a very long subject [Big human like men animals that people go to see at parks they pay to get into]. It also has a comma following the subject which is strictly incorrect, but which would only add to the difficulty if it wasn't there. Similarly, the last sentence uses incorrect commas to try to clarify a very awkward construction.

The second entry, on the right here, has an almost incomprehensible sentence in it, the first sentence in the second paragraph. It does get better, and of course I picked two of the worst ones in this respect, but it just shows: simpler words does not necessarily mean simpler writing.

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