Monday, December 10, 2012

Plain and Simple Halloween

Costumes, candy, and carving pumpkins, all are staples in one of the most prized traditional holidays. Halloween is known as one of the most popular holidays in the United States and it generates billions of dollars in revenue every year. But the United States is not the only country that celebrates Halloween. It originated in Europe, created by a group known as the Celts who were located in the areas of current day Ireland, Britain, and northern France.  As time passed Halloween’s popularity died off in France, but remained in Ireland and Britain ( According to the article “France Goes Batty over Halloween” on the holiday has become popularized in France again. This article was October 26, 2000 for for online news. There was no listed author to the article. The choice of plain style allows a wide variety of readers to understand and enjoy the article. With this being said I believe the plain style was used very effectively in this particular piece. The article’s simple language and to the point sentences it works well within its activity system and thus makes it overall effective in its language.

            As I said the article has no notable author mentioned. It was published on the internet over 10 years ago with no indication of any other publishing. With no noted author I am going to guess it was a staff writer. It was listed under the travel section. With all of these factors in play its assumed audience is those not only with access to the internet, but those who may normally read or watch CNN. They may just have an interest in Halloween. Considering that it was listed under the travel section the readers may have an interest in travel or foreign countries. Based on the simple language and the depth of the explanations given in the text the readers most likely do not have a lot of knowledge on the topic. There is not a particularly narrow group of people this article was written for. It is not limiting by knowledge or profession. It is more based on interest or general readership. There were no pictures to accompany the article. Either way the article is written in a way that suits it readers well for their needs and interests.

            The plain style suits this type of article well. As a news article it is meant to be straight to the point and give its reader the information they need as quickly as possible. The article is only about a page and a half, maybe two pages, yet it gives quite a bit of information. If the author makes a reference or statement that the readers might possibly not understand they explain it as clearly as possible. The plain style is much like technical or professional writing in the sense that it is clear and concise, but plain style has a more relaxed feel. It seems a bit more conversational or less formal. The Flesch-Kincaid grade level was 10 and was an average grade level of 10.5. The SMOG index was 9.8. With SMOG score this low it is easy to see that the article was written very clearly. The characters per word is 4.6 which is a tad high for plain style however that can be explained by the fact that the word “Halloween” is used often. Since that is the topic of the article it is not particularly surprising. The number of words per sentence comes out to 19.6. This is a bit high, but this is again explainable. The author tends to use a lot of quotes from people. When people talk they are often more long winded in their sentences and use smaller words.

   "The American Dream," a bar and restaurant near the Opera Garnier, has been celebrating Halloween since 1982. In the beginning, it had to give its customers leaflets explaining the tradition. "No one knew what it was," says the manager, Charles Lellouche. "But in the last three or four years, many people of all nationalities have come here to celebrate Halloween."

            In the passage above it is easy to see how the sentences can be long, yet still simple in their language. The grade level being 10.5 is fine for plain style in this context based on its intended audience. It can be assumed that more people that go on to the internet to seek out news stories are most likely educated enough to understand the article, and may be past the 10th grade level. The style the author uses not only serves its audience well, but it also serves well for its contextual norm.

            The quotation above shows a hint of conflict. When Charles Lellouche says that people of all nationalities come to the bar to celebrate Halloween it is somewhat contradicting the idea of the article. The article is meant to focus on how France as a country and culture has begun to celebrate Halloween. This quote contradicts this idea by saying that all different nationalities come to celebrate. This raises the question of whether this whole thing is specific to France as the article is making it out to be or if it is an attraction for many cultures that just congregates in France. Those are two very different ideas. If you do not read closely, it is something that can be easily overlooked. Regarding the quote, Lellouche could have a whole different agenda for this article. His intention is presumably to call attention to his business. It may be better for business to say that it is a place that many different people go to celebrate this holiday. It could be very excluding for potential customers for him to say that it is exclusively French people who go there.

            The article is very appropriate considering its topic and timing. It is appropriate for its venue because it deals with more foreign affairs that a more select audience would want to know. It is appropriate to place the article on the internet rather than anywhere else because it is not a breaking news story. This is more of a trivial, fun article for people to read. It is not crucial information or world changing news. So the venue is appropriate. Also, the topic is very appropriate regarding the timing of its publication. Since it was published in October, close to the holiday itself, it makes it very time appropriate. No one would want to read an article about Halloween in the month of May. The only time this subject would be relevant is in October. So the author did a good job keeping the the article on track in this sense.  

            This piece fits the norm for news articles very well. By effectively using the plain style of writing it conveys the messages and information quickly and easily. Good news articles use a similar format and language style, therefore fitting the norm for news articles. It functions well in the norm by giving the news with no other filler or fluff in the writing. They give statements, facts, and quotes to tell the story or inform about the topic of the article they do so using what they need and no more. . This may be common knowledge, but it is important to show how well it fits each part of the norms criteria. By sticking to the norm of news articles this article satisfies the objective which in this case is relaying new information to readers in an efficient way. One more important way this article fits the norm is by giving the readers a story that they do not already know about. No one would want to read a story that they already know about. Reading redundant information is boring and would not suit the norms for a news story. Frankly, if it is old information that people know, then it is not news. It is fair to say that most Americans would not necessarily know if the French did or did not celebrate Halloween. By writing the article on this topic the author is satisfying the need of their reading community while conforming to the norms of this type of writing.

            By working well within its activity system this article has a positive outcome, I’d say. It achieves the desired outcomes of the activity. The article is relaxed, yet informative and reaches its desired audience. The article is successful because it is worded in a way that keeps things simple enough to be understood yet is still professional enough for news.  The plain style is used well in this article leading to a coherent message and a well meshed activity system. With all of this being said this article was less of a trick and more of a treat.   

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