Defining clarity

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Sun, 10 Apr 1994 00:47:55 -0500

Perhaps I am being unacceptably naive, or perhaps there is some great
theoretical work that dashes the following suggestion to bits. But here
goes, anyway.
In addition to teaching ethnomusicology, I also teach and tutor English as
a Second Language. Thus, I have seen parallels in the responses to
academic writing (from native English speakers) and to basic English usage
(from non-native speakers).

>From these experiences, I would say that a lack of clarity can be seen, at
least in part, on the basis of two extremely mechanical standards:

1. How many clauses are there in a given sentence?

2. Do you still remember what a given pronoun refers to?

Not very exciting, nor especially comprehensive, but these are often at
the root of my own difficulty as well as that of my students.

Cliff Sloane