Monday, October 20, 2014

The Official style Unhooked

                 Official style creates unnecessary complexity and can warp and mutate writing, but at the same time it can inform and intrigue in a professional way. Fishing is such an informal interest; it simply requires a fishing pole, some line, and bait, but if this is the case, why do authors of fishing articles use the complex official style? In my research I noticed two major article types that involved official style. Authors wrote about strategies and techniques professional anglers use to catch more fish. These articles usually contain new challenging information and difficult vocabulary. The other type of article describes the author’s stories and experiences. These articles usually contain creative, but in certain cases unclear, word choice. Although fishing articles do contain some official language it does not contain a lot and even when used it rarely affects the article. With that being said, sometimes they incidentally isolate new fishermen who read them.
                Authors of the informational fishing articles are usually professionals so the information and vocabulary can be challenging for an angler who has just started. As a reader I appreciate fishing articles written by professional anglers because it means the information is credible, but at the same time it can be difficult to understand the techniques described or the information that is talked about. A reader must understand a professional angler is a very specialized position, so certain points in an article are going to seem foreign to even experienced anglers. The difference in fishing knowledge between a professional and an experienced angler is similar to a professors’ knowledge compared to a students’. Familiarity with fishing doesn’t mean you will understand the very difficult and scientific information some articles present. I believe the articles are meant to be highly informational, and directed towards an audience that has the knowledge and equipment to take advantage of the information given. It is still a shame, even though I feel it is incidental, that articles written like this do create a skill level hierarchy. It keeps the beginners on the bottom and the experts on the top.
There’s the seiche effect, which is current that is caused by the settling out of water after a prolonged blow in one direction, or by seismic, atmospheric or lunar effect. A “reverse current” is caused by strong winds blowing in the opposite direction of the natural flow through a river or reservoir, and if it’s prolonged, the backside of structures may turn on with active muskies.            
This is a quote from a highly challenging and informational fishing article. I believe this is official style due to the difficult vocabulary and long complex sentences.  The quote above has thirty four words per sentence and is littered with prepositions, is- verbs, and difficult vocabulary. Although the quote above uses official style, I still believe the main goal of the article is to inform. This article style does create a knowledge based hierarchy but that’s not the intention of the article. Overall my original thoughts about official style being used as a power trip is not the intention or purpose of fishing articles but can sometimes seem that way because it is such a specialized sport.                              
                An important aspect of fishing is being able to share your stories and experiences with others who share your same passion and emotion for the sport.  This is a good way for an author to bond with experienced anglers/readers and attract new readers/anglers. Authors also write these articles to increase the membership and the income of their group. Although money and membership is a motive, I believe more importantly is the bond anglers share through their unique stories which is a very important aspect of being an angler. It forms a connection between anglers and it maintains the sport of fishing by keeping anglers interested as well as attracting new people to join.
It had been four hours since we had a sniff from a musky, and we were baked from the afternoon sun. Finally … a little relief, as the sun had settled low enough on the horizon     to cool the air and increase the shadows. The water — which only a few hours before appeared clear—now was black and spooky. Magic time had begun.
The quote contains more creative writing than official style yet some word choices especially the verbs and adjectives are misleading, but intriguing as well, which I believe is the purpose of the article. The author who wrote this passage was telling a story about one of his fishing experiences. You can tell the descriptive and creative writing could easily grab a readers’ attention. Designed to excite readers and interest them in the sport of fishing, I believe this quote is a creatively written anecdote in the article. Although written stories promote membership which involves money, the main purpose of official language in these articles is to be able to connect with people who share the same fishing interests as you. Similar to the informational article, anglers who haven’t had experiences can sometimes feel isolated at the bottom of the food chain.
                Official style is rare in fishing articles but when it is used it can have both good and bad effects. In my research I found two different article types that used official language both for different reasons. The first article was informational, which due to the complex sentences and difficult vocabulary I thought it was official style. Although these articles are very informational and credible I believe it does incidentally set up this skill based hierarchy. The second article type was authors sharing fishing stories and strategies. Although I do believe some articles use official style to promote membership or products most of the time I believe it’s the fishermen connecting and bonding with each other. Fishing articles contain little hints of official style, in these articles official style can have positive and negative effects, but for the most part it doesn’t affect the article at all.

-Sam Schneider

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