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Hi,

I am currently reading a novel, The Glass Palace – by Amitav Gosh, who is praised by highly respected sources as a finest prose and seductive writer.

Nonetheless, I found fragmented sentences in his book that trouble me even with a realization of the intentional special effects, for example: "he said in his fluent but heavily accented Burmese. "They’re shooting somewhere up the river. Heading in this direction." "

Could we replace the periods (the one after Burmese and another before Heading) with different punctuation marks that would retain the idea still but do away with the grammatical blemish? If so, would you replace the first period with a comma and the second with a hyphen - or each period with a comma?

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Here is another fragmented sentence: “The scientists flooded us with their reports that we were headed for a big trouble. Which is where we’ve arrived!”

Somebody shared with me that language experts would not exploit incorrect usage - the problematic sentences often come from authors who just have a poor knowledge of English and/or grammar. That could be true for the above usage - but Ghosh? What do you think?

Thanks,
Hoa Thai
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Hi,

Is the author trying to reproduce the way his characters actually speak?

That certainly seems to be the case in your first passage. I'm not sure if the second one represents the author's 'voice', or that of one of his characters.

I hope you realize that we all tend to produce a lot of fragments in our everyday speech.

Best wishes, Clive
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CliveHi,

Is the author trying to reproduce the way his characters actually speak?

That certainly seems to be the case in your first passage. I'm not sure if the second one represents the author's 'voice', or that of one of his characters.

I hope you realize that we all tend to produce a lot of fragments in our everyday speech.

Best wishes, Clive
Hello Clive,

I do understand what you said about using fragments in our daily speech to highten a character's features in a novel. However, let's assume there is a pause in the voice of the speaker, wouldn't the use of different punctuation marks be sufficient without having to break the rules?

By the way, I should have pointed out that the second case is not from The Glass Palace. It was transcriped from a speech given by a CEO.

Thanks,
Hoa Thai
Hi,

I do understand what you said about using fragments in our daily speech to highten a character's features in a novel. However, let's assume there is a pause in the voice of the speaker, wouldn't the use of different punctuation marks be sufficient without having to break the rules?

There's a saying that 'Rules are made to be broken'. Emotion: smile

By the way, I should have pointed out that the second case is not from The Glass Palace. It was transcriped from a speech given by a CEO.

"The scientists flooded us with their reports that we were headed for a big trouble. Which is where we’ve arrived!”

'A big trouble' is a very unnatural phrase. Perhaps the person who did the transcription was not a native speaker.


And perhaps the CEO did not speak very good English. Where you live, do all CEOs speak perfectly? Consider the much-mocked speech of George Bush, who is, if you like, the CEO of the United States.

Best wishes, Clive
CliveThere's a saying that 'Rules are made to be broken'. Emotion: smile
That is comforting!
Clive'A big trouble' is a very unnatural phrase. Perhaps the person who did the transcription was not a native speaker.
I think you could be right! A picture of a CEO next to such a transcription might lessen his image.
CliveConsider the much-mocked speech of George Bush, who is, if you like, the CEO of the United States.
I read a couple of editorial notes mocking his problem with pronunciation of a few words and some of his mishaps when answering the press. That might show his lack of preparation. Have you read any of his writings while he was in college? It could be very revealing about his own thoughts and skills. Of course, just from TV news, and think his command of the language is poorer than President Clinton's.

Well, I guess I am rather arrogant in saying that. Who am I, an ESL learner, to judge a native?

Once again, thank you for sharing your time,
Hoa Thai
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