Sequences of Words and Events - Summary of Styles | English

Chapter Eight

Sequences of Words and Events

Sequences of Words and Events - Summary of Styles:

The most important aspect of style is the sequence in which we mention things in a text as a whole or in a paragraph and in the wording of individual sentences, and how this may create emphasis or surprise. The writer must make choices the exact words and phrases choosing the similar alternatives or different focuses on the same content to match the sequence in which words, phrases, sentences and ideas are to occur. For example: Different focus on same content can be viewed in ‘car’ or ‘wheel’.

Opening 1: Once upon a time there was a poor widow and her son Jack… things sequence can be continued in the same pattern as the imaginary events occur or we could start.

Opening 2: ‘One morning Jack woke up and saw a huge beanstalk outside his bedroom window.’ and then explain its presence by going back over what had had happened the day before.

The flashback version is more exciting because it begins with the extra-ordinary beanstalk and then raises questions in the reader’s mind. On the other hand, it is more difficult to understand a story which is told out of ordinary sequence because the sequences of event don’t match the sequence of sentences. The flashbacks do possess problems of the narrator to provide the essential information needed by the reader to make sure of the story i.e. so called exposition.

The flashback is striking because it flouts what seems the most natural sequencing i.e. making language events follow the same sequence as events in the story. Though it seems must natural to follow the sequence, making statements followed by, so the passage could be taken in the reverse sequence. For example:

  1. This is a supermarket. Therefore, varieties of things are available here.
  2. Varieties of things are available here because this is a supermarket.

In the above example, the reverse sequencing gives the same meaning. The sequencing of a text should try to focus on the understanding of listeners’ or readers’. Do we start with background information and lead up to new information? Or do we start with new information, to arise the questions in the readers’ or listeners’ mind about it, and then begin to answer those questions?

Another way of looking at sequence as the aspect of style is to look at the ways in which a speaker or writer creates a continuous thread of meaning. How one thing leads to another? It means the meaning of the previous idea must be connected with another idea. We can consider the following statements:

  1. Once there was a poor widow
  2. There was once a poor widow
  3. There was a poor widow once
  4. A poor widow, there was, once
  5. A poor widow once there was

Changing the sequence of words and phrases affects the rhetorical effect rather than the narrative content. It is difficult to find out the differences because same words can be expressed in different ways.

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