What can we learn from diagramming sentences?

What can we learn from diagramming sentences?

Postby cwconrad » June 21st, 2012, 3:43 pm

A column by Kitty Burns Florey in the NY Times a couple days ago
(http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/20 ... ef=opinion)
has the above as a secondary title; the first title is "Taming Sentences." I'm reminded of my high school exercises of diagramming sonnets of Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; this author offers us a diagram of one of the simpler sentences of an early chapter of Henry James' The Golden Bowl.

I think that the last two paragraphs are well put:

Probably the best way to learn the technicalities of language and usage is not to diagram but simply to read books that are full of good sentences. Our observant brains will soak up the rules. It is the surest route to becoming a better writer — as opposed to merely a grammatically correct writer. If your kids are having trouble with grammar, or their school is one of the many that no longer teach it, read to them, give them books for their birthdays, drive them to the library on Saturday mornings.

As for the verdict on diagramming? The wimpy judgment, but unfortunately the only one that makes sense, is that it is like broccoli: it’s good for you only if you can stomach it.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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Re: What can we learn from diagramming sentences?

Postby David Lim » June 21st, 2012, 11:47 pm

cwconrad wrote:
As for the verdict on diagramming? The wimpy judgment, but unfortunately the only one that makes sense, is that it is like broccoli: it’s good for you only if you can stomach it.


But I like broccoli! It is a nice vegetable! No, I think diagramming is like durian. ;) And I think a more explicit hierarchical parsing gives more insight than diagramming, something like what the Stanford Parser does (http://nlp.stanford.edu:8080/parser/index.jsp?query=As%20for%20the%20verdict%20on%20diagramming?%20The%20wimpy%20judgment,%20but%20unfortunately%20the%20only%20one%20that%20makes%20sense,%20is%20that%20it%20is%20like%20broccoli:%20it's%20good%20for%20you%20only%20if%20you%20can%20stomach%20it.).
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