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A Model of Excellent English Options
TheParser
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016 7:21:57 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,674
Neurons: 22,062
Dear really advanced learners:

I am sure that you aspire to speak and write excellent English. I am not referring only to the grammar, but to the whole tone of an article.

When you get time, please google: Neville Chamberlain Eulogy by Winston Churchill.

That speech has often been cited as one of the greatest examples of the majesty of the English language.

Let me quickly catch you up:

1. Neville Chamberlain was the prime minister of the United Kingdom before World War II. He really, truly believed that if he let Herr Hitler have half of Czechoslovakia, then Herr Hitler would really, truly agree to stop taking more countries. Mr. Chamberlain was a gentleman; Herr Hitler was not. Perhaps you have seen the touching photo of Mr. Chamberlain returning from his trip to see Herr Hitler. When Mr. Chamberlain emerges, he waves the paper that was signed by both men. War, it seemed, had been averted.

2. When Germany invaded Poland, Mr. Chamberlain, of course, had to resign. Even today, when people think that a leader has been too "soft" against bad guys, people will refer to Neville Chamberlain. This is not the place to discuss that matter, but some experts say that it is very unfair to put all the blame on Mr. Chamberlain, for at that time the British armed forces were very weak, and the political situation in France, the U.K.'s ally, was in turmoil.

Let me now quote just the last paragraph of his eulogy. It will give you an appreciation for the way in which Sir Winston was able to master the English language:



At this time our thoughts must pass to the gracious and charming lady who shared his days of triumph and adversity with a courage and quality the equal of his own. He was, like his father and his brother Austen before him, a famous Member of the House of Commons, and we here assembled this morning, Members of all parties, without a single exception, feel that we do ourselves and our country honour in saluting the memory of one whom Disraeli would have called an "English worthy."
Elvandil
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016 1:15:27 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 295
Neurons: 122,215
Location: East Montpelier, Vermont, United States
I find Elizabeth I to be an inspiring user of English:

"... I happily chose this kind of life in which I yet live, which I assure you for my own part hath hitherto best contented myself and I trust hath been most acceptable to God. From the which if either ambition of high estate offered to me in marriage by the pleasure and appointment of my prince ... or if the eschewing of the danger of my enemies or the avoiding of the peril of death ... could have drawn or dissuaded me from this kind of life, I had not now remained in this estate wherein you see me."

I especially like her use of the past subjunctives.

But did Chamberlain have a brother who was a monk, as in "brother Austen"? Or was an appositive following a precise identifier mistakenly left without commas? Is it: "his brother, Austen, before him"?

Aside from Shakespeare, there is another work, an anthology of short stories gathered over a long period of time, that also uses beautiful language: The King James Bible. Though its contents go beyond straining credulity to being absolutely impossible, it should be kept in mind that hallucinations from ergotism were common during the time and moldy rye bread was widely consumed. The English translations make even ignorant superstition seem palatable and mildly interesting.

The English tend to make frequent grammatical errors (more than Americans, according to some). Yet the fluidity of their speech sometimes hides these errors. And they are deliberate, adding to the meaning and focusing it. It's as if the English understand the language at the level of their bones and that slavish obedience to grammar is the sign of a rank amateur.


P.S.
TheParser wrote:
Dear really advanced learners:


I assume you mean people ill satisfied by spelling bees and imprecise definitions of commonly known words.Whistle

P.P.S.
TheParser wrote:
When you get time, please google


Sorry, but I have Google blocked, though I will "search". Google's scanning all my emails and keeping tabs on my habits and location, as well as giving results that are ads and don't provide true information, is not acceptable to me.




(議思不の界世) pןɹoʍ ǝɥʇ ɟo sɹǝpuoʍ ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝuo sı ǝpoɔıun
coag
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016 2:28:23 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/27/2010
Posts: 957
Neurons: 4,815
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In my opinion-- as much as opinion of an English learner counts-- Churchill's eulogy for Neville Chamberlain is one of the best examples of English rhetoric. Every learner, interested in English writing and speaking, will benefit from reading and studying Churchill's eulogy for Chamberlain.

My other favorite historical examples of English rhetoric are:
1. Kennedy's inaugural address
2. Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech
3. The Gettysburg Address
4. Patrick Henry's 'Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death' speech.

Note: My primary interest is an efficient and clear communication. A poetical language is mot may primary interest.
NKM
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016 8:38:35 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 4,192
Neurons: 192,531
Location: Corinth, New York, United States
Elvandil wrote:

But did Chamberlain have a brother who was a monk, as in "brother Austen"? Or was an appositive following a precise identifier mistakenly left without commas? Is it: "his brother, Austen, before him"?

══════════════════════════════════════════════

While I don't intend to make a habit of defending Sir Winston's mastery of the English language, I must protest that there's nothing "mistaken" about the omission of a comma from that appositive. There was clearly no need of a comma in "his brother Austen".

And had his brother been a monk, it would more likely have been "his brother, Brother Austen" — though in that case I'm sure Churchill would have settled on a more elegant phrasing.

(Sometimes I just can't help answering a bit of nitpicking with some of my own.)

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016 9:04:40 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 27,307
Neurons: 151,426
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
NKM wrote:
There was clearly no need of a comma in "his brother Austen".

I agree - if one were to read out the sentence, or listen to Churchill say it, there is absolutely no pause there - it is not needed.

"He was, like his father and his brother Austen before him, a famous Member of the House of Commons, and we here assembled this morning . . ."

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
TheParser
Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2016 8:36:18 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,674
Neurons: 22,062
[quote=Elvandil] Is it: "his brother, Austen, before him"?



You have raised an excellent point.

So excellent, in fact, that I plan to address it in the "Grammar" forum.

I plan to title the thread: Commas or no commas?
TheParser
Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2016 8:07:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,674
Neurons: 22,062
Elvandil wrote:
Or was an appositive following a precise identifier mistakenly left without commas? Is it: "his brother, Austen, before him"?







Elvandil:


1. When you get time, you may wish to read my thread "Comma or no comma?" in the "Grammar" forum.

2. I see that you are an American. I do not know your age, but I am sure that your teacher would be delighted by what I have quoted above. You are, indeed, correct that on a test, some American teachers would require commas.

3. I discovered that Mr. Chamberlain had only one brother (a half-brother, in fact).

4. Therefore, you are -- in my opinion -- 100% correct: that section should read "... his brother, Austen, before him."

5. If he had had two or more brothers, then it would have been incorrect to use commas. (Please see my thread in "Grammar.")

BUT !!!

a. Sir Winston was a master of English. It would be the height of impertinence for a nobody like me to say that Sir Winston made a "mistake."
b. Remember, too, the punctuation rules in the United Kingdom and the United States are not necessarily the same.
c. Above all, remember: many professional writers know the rules, but they decide to suspend those rules for the sake of personal style.
d. I can well understand that Sir Winston did not want to clutter the sentence with commas. He was not writing a lesson at school. He was writing something to read to Parliament.
In its written form, it looks "cleaner" without all those commas: "He was, like his father and his brother Austen before him, a famous Member of the House of Commons."
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