I used this journal article for my ENG 301 class, Introduction to Literature, last semester when I wrote my final paper Politics in Harry Potter. It was written by Robert Darby, published by Quadrant Magazine in 2011, and was derived from UWL databases. Quadrant Magazine is an Australian literary and cultural journal. It takes a conservative position on political and social issues. The magazine reviews literature on ideas about politics, history, universities, and arts. So this magazine will choose directly on the journals which are written about politics, history and other topics they are interested in. Therefore, I think a lot of scholars in researching Harry Potter will focus on reading this journal article. Professors in the political science department may also be interested in this journal, because this article educates readers on what to do and how to do it in a political struggle. This journal used a lot of official style, for instance, relative clauses were being used so many times that it even appeared four times in my chosen paragraph which only had 161 words. I divided the paragraph into four sentences, and every one of them started with a slow beginning like “The operative factor here is not….” Furthermore, passive voice was also used broadly in this journal. We as college students need to write all kinds of papers throughout our college life. The official style which has been widely used for so many years becomes our first choice in the writing process.
We cannot use simple words and complex sentences like we did in high school because professors tend to be fond of Big Words and complicated sentence structures. In this sense, we replace a lot of common words with higher level words, for example, “use” becomes “utilize,” “show” becomes “edify.” Moreover, we use more and more complex sentences like relative clauses in our papers. However, why should we actually use a lot of higher level words and complex sentences in papers? In this blog article, I intend to analyze both the text I chose form Darby’s journal and the plain language translation of the text, finding out whether we need to use a lot of big words and make the sentence structure so complicated.
To some readers, the official style papers which are written in big words are more credible to them. Looking within the text, it appears that the word choice and sentences are put together with abstractive ideas on a high level.
One of Bohemianspirit’s less plausible suggestions is that Dumbledore contrived the confrontation in the Department of Mysteries and was pleased by Sirius’s death.
These sentences basically are showing that Darby wants to argue with Bohemianspirit that Dumbledore is really sad about Sirius’s death. These sentences are obviously important in Darby’s journal, because the writer begins to argue with other writer on contents in Harry Potter. The different points of view may influence how the readers think about Albus Dumbledore. The average grade level of the text is 19.1, which can be considered higher than the university level. Does Darby have to write in the high readability level? After I try to translate the text into plain English, I think he has the reason to do that:
Bohemianspirit suggests inaccurately that Dumbledore designed the war in the Department of Mysteries and he felt happy about Sirius's death.
The translation really loses some information from the original one. And also, it loses the passion which can be found in the former. In the original text, I feel that Darby is trying to convince me that some parts of Bohemianspirit's arguments are wrong; I can feel the passion through the passage. But when I translate it into plain language, I find that the translation does not have the persuasive emotion. It becomes an informative passage which just shows the writer’s ideas.
Another revealing passage of this journal, which clarifies the title of the journal, is:
On the contrary, he was deeply distressed by both disasters, though there is some truth in Bohemianspirit’s argument, in that he blamed himself for what happened—not, however, because he had sought such outcomes, but because they were the unwitting consequences of his excessive love for Harry.
By using the sentence structure “on the contrary,” which occurs at the beginning of the next sentence, it is understood that Darby is trying to give his own opinion, continuing to argue with Bohemianspirit and persuade audiences. Obviously, this is one sentence with 47 words. The structure of the sentence is more complicated. By using six commas and one dash, the writer successfully abstract four ideas in one sentence:
s Dumbledore is deeply distressed by both disasters
s Bohemianspirit’s argument has some truth, because Dumbledore blames himself about what happened
s The blaming is not because Dumbledore has sought such outcomes
s It is because the unwitting consequences of Dumbledore’s love for Harry
However, the translation of this sentence does not keep as much information as the original text:
However, Dumbledore deeply suffered in both disasters. Some of Bohemianspirit's arguments are true because Dumbledore blamed himself for what happened. Dumbledore didn't seek for such outcomes. His too much love for Harry brought the unwitting endings.
Obviously, although complex sentences and big words are hard to read and understand, they can contain enough related information within one sentence. Complex sentences and high-level vocabulary are not simply looking good or credible while readers have a glance, the sentences and words give enough emotion, making readers really feel the writer’s passion while reading the articles.
By Ximing Yu
Darby, Robert. "The Hard Decisions of Albus Dumbledore." Quadrant Magazine 55.11 (2011): 44-47.
"Quadrant (magazine)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrant_(magazine)>.