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Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1334
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 - 7:32 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

During a speech at the University of Melbourne, a popular author gave a simple, general piece of writing advice. Although the advice was perfectly sound, he later described it as his most embarrassing moment ever. Why?
Alexanderhamilton (Alexanderhamilton)
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Username: Alexanderhamilton

Post Number: 393
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 - 8:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Would it help to know the author? Is he still alive? Is he relatively famous?

Was the advice hypocritical? Was it ironic? Was it embarrassing at the time? Or only in retrospect?

Was it something along the lines of "Your sentences should be X", but the actual sentence wasn't X?
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1341
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 - 10:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Would it help to know the author? No Is he still alive? yes Is he relatively famous? He was at the time.

It concerns Australian children's author Paul Jennings. He was quite prolific, and sold well in at least 4 continents in the 90s.


Was the advice hypocritical? yes Was it ironic? yes Was it embarrassing at the time? yes Or only in retrospect? no

Was it something along the lines of "Your sentences should be X", but the actual sentence wasn't X? Yes!

Eee, this will go quickly.
Lynne (Lynne)
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Username: Lynne

Post Number: 5736
Registered: 12-2000
Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 - 11:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say something like 'your sentences should be gramatically correct' but his weren't? (And I'm guessing that a purist will come along and correct me).
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1342
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 - 11:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say something like 'your sentences should be gramatically correct' but his weren't? His piece of advice was grammatically correct (And I'm guessing that a purist will come along and correct me). Your grammar looks fine to me, although your spelling is a different issue :P
Lynne (Lynne)
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Username: Lynne

Post Number: 5737
Registered: 12-2000
Posted on Thursday, January 09, 2014 - 11:09 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

LOL
Enjay (Enjay)
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Username: Enjay

Post Number: 2879
Registered: 4-2007
Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 - 12:16 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he misuse a word? Use a non-existent word?

Was his advice to do with writing concisely? With word choice? Sentence structure? Parts of speech?

Did he say 'exaggerating is the worst thing in the world'? 'Generalisations are always a bad idea'? 'It is always a terrible error to utilise verbose prose, when one could so easily benefit from a more abstemious approach to vocabulary'?
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1343
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 - 12:21 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he misuse a word? noUse a non-existent word? no

Was his advice to do with writing concisely? With word choice? predominantly this Sentence structure? Parts of speech?

Did he say 'exaggerating is the worst thing in the world'? 'Generalisations are always a bad idea'? 'It is always a terrible error to utilise verbose prose, when one could so easily benefit from a more abstemious approach to vocabulary'? Something like this, although a prolific author would never fall into any such obvious trap
Redwine (Redwine)
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Username: Redwine

Post Number: 1383
Registered: 10-2013
Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 - 9:11 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say that a sentence should not exceed X words? Did he say something about using foreign words in writing? Did his advice concern citing?
Galfisk (Galfisk)
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Username: Galfisk

Post Number: 8
Registered: 10-2013
Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 - 1:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was it a preposition that it ended with? Loan words or foreign words relevant? Long or complicated words? Words at all?
Alexanderhamilton (Alexanderhamilton)
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Username: Alexanderhamilton

Post Number: 396
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 - 3:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is the title relevant? Was his advice not to use made-up words?
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1344
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 9:14 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

<font color="sauvignon">

Did he say that a sentence should not exceed X words? no Did he say something about using foreign words in writing? no Did his advice concern citing? no

Galfisk:

Was it a preposition that it ended with? *golf clap* No, that is not the solution i'm thinking of Loan words or foreign words relevant? no Long or complicated words? the solution hinges on (a) word(s) that are neither long nor complicated Words at all? no

AlexanderHamilton:

Is the title relevant? It's his first work, and the birth of a trademark (collections with titles beginning with 'un'). This is irrelevant to the solution. Was his advice not to use made-up words? no
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1345
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 9:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Speaking of embarrassing moments, something went a bit wrong with the html there. Sorry, Redwine. I'd blame too much sauvignon, but it seems that there was, in fact, too little.
Enjay (Enjay)
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Username: Enjay

Post Number: 2880
Registered: 4-2007
Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 10:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was his advice not to use a certain type of word? To limit the use if a certain type of word? To use a certain type of word?

If none of the above capture it, was it broadly advice to do something? To not do something?

Are any of the following particularly relevant: nouns? verbs? adjectives? adverbs? conjunctions? prepositions?

Could he have realised straight away that his advice in fact contradicted itself? Or did realising this require him to have some knowledge that he did not have at that point?
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1346
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 11:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was his advice not to use a certain type of word? yope To limit the use if a certain type of word? yope To use a certain type of word? no

If none of the above capture it, was it broadly advice to do something? To not do something? no

Are any of the following particularly relevant: nouns? verbs? adjectives? this adverbs? conjunctions? prepositions?

Could he have realised straight away that his advice in fact contradicted itself? yes Or did realising this require him to have some knowledge that he did not have at that point? no
Alexanderhamilton (Alexanderhamilton)
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Username: Alexanderhamilton

Post Number: 397
Registered: 9-2013
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 4:34 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was his advice about how one should use adjectives? How one should not use adjectives? Was his advice not to use particular kinds of adjectives? To use particular adjectives? Any specific adjective(s) relevant?

Was his advice to avoid generic adjectives like "good" and "bad"? Was to avoid modifying adjectives with "very" when you could use more interesting language (i.e., very hungry vs. famished)?
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1352
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 9:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Was his advice about how one should use adjectives? How one should not use adjectives? Was his advice not to use particular kinds of adjectives? To use particular adjectives? Any specific adjective(s) relevant? yes

Was his advice to avoid generic adjectives like "good" and "bad"? Was to avoid modifying adjectives with "very" when you could use more interesting language (i.e., very hungry vs. famished)? and yes!
Lynne (Lynne)
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Username: Lynne

Post Number: 5747
Registered: 12-2000
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 10:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say 'don't use the word nice, it's not a nice thing to do?'
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
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Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1363
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 11:02 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say 'don't use the word nice, it's not a nice thing to do?' It's basically that trap that he fell in to. See my response to Alexanderhamilton to see the specific word in question
Lynne (Lynne)
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Username: Lynne

Post Number: 5750
Registered: 12-2000
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 11:08 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say it's very important that you don't use the word very?
Wizardofnz (Wizardofnz)
New member
Username: Wizardofnz

Post Number: 1366
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 11:11 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did he say it's very important that you don't use the word very? close enough!

***** SPOILER *****

Paul Jennings, speaking to a group of literature students, told them that 'Very is a very weak word to use'. Fortunately, he claims, they thought he did that on purpose.


Well done all, especially Hamilton and Lynne.
Lynne (Lynne)
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Username: Lynne

Post Number: 5755
Registered: 12-2000
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014 - 11:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

An exceedingly good puzzle!

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