Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

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Guest

Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Guest » December 21st, 2005, 5:05 am

Sorry for posting something entirely off topic here.

I'm just rereading the Bob Read article in Genii, april 2004 written by Jon Racherbaumer.

As he without doubt knows how to express the english language, I got in doubt re the very beginning of his article and my own limited knowledge of the english language.

My question here is soley of educational reason, nothing else !

The article starts with:

It's been oft said that great magic is simple.

I felt over this formulation and really wanted to know if this is entirely correct or just another way to write this, because *I* (as a foreigner and not educated in the english language other then learning by doing) would have written:

It's (It has) been said often (that) great magic is simple.

In the above (my version), I wouldn't even use the word *that*, but had inserted a semicolon after *often*, though I know there isn't anything wrong to use the *that* there.

So *I* would/should have written:

It has been said often, great magic is simple.

Those in the know, please enlighten me...

It's realy just curiousity and NOT to point out/imply, Rach wouldn't know 'how' to write, but to get to know what the most correct way to express this sentence might be!

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Steve Bryant » December 21st, 2005, 5:27 am

Your following sentence is correct and using "that" would be preferred:

It's (It has) been said often (that) great magic is simple.

The version with a comma or a semicolon would not be correct. Jon's version is correct also, but Jon chooses, often to our delight, to be stylistic. For enjoyable, thorough, and accurate rules on these things I highly recommend the books by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, The New Well-tempered Sentence, etc.).

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Steve Bryant » December 21st, 2005, 5:45 am

By the way, also note that American (U.S.) punctuation differs from British punctuation. The books I recommended deal with U.S. punctuation.

Guest

Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Guest » December 21st, 2005, 6:48 am

Thanks!
Actually I even can se now that placing a comma was wrong and that the word *that* instead, HAS to be used.
Placing a comma there does devide the sentence into 2 parts as if talking about 2 different issues in the same sentence. (at least that is what my sense for rythm says)

Guest

Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Guest » December 21st, 2005, 6:54 am

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
By the way, also note that American (U.S.) punctuation differs from British punctuation. The books I recommended deal with U.S. punctuation.
Some appropriate English books are Modern English Usage by Fowler, and Usage and Abusage by Eric Partridge.

Dave

Edwin Corrie
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Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Edwin Corrie » December 21st, 2005, 6:56 am

I can't resist joining in on this one...

"Oft" is a poetic form of "often", and it's mostly used in adjectival phrases such as "the oft repeated assertion". A more standard way of saying this is "It has often been said that...". (Personally I would put "often" before "been", but I don't think there are any rules about that.)

The "that" can sometimes be omitted, but it needs to be included it here. The sentence "Dai Vernon says (that) great magic is simple" works equally well with or without "that", but in "it is said that..." it is more or less obligatory.

You don't need a comma, colon or semicolon to introduce "great magic is simple". In German (and possibly also Danish - I'm not sure) the comma is or should always be used before "that" in phrases such as "says that", but it's not really correct in either British or American English. Either: -He said, "Great magic is simple", or -He said great magic is simple.

Guest

Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Guest » December 21st, 2005, 7:22 am

Originally posted by Edwin Corrie:
...or -He said great magic is simple.
Somehow, putting it this way, doesn't 'sound' correct to me :confused:
I just mean, it doesn't 'sound' correct to me..

Here I would say:

He said, great magic is simple

or better(?), as you mentioned:

He said,"Great magic is simple"

Well, difficult stuff to do correct and there no doubt are different equally correct ways to all this..

Guest

Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby Guest » December 21st, 2005, 8:12 am

Originally posted by Werner G. Seitz:
He said, great magic is simple

He said,"Great magic is simple"
There's a very important difference here.

He said that great magic is simple. This would imply that he said words to that effect. He may not have used the word "great" and
he may not have used the word "simple".

He said,"Great magic is simple". This implies that he said those precise words. (Incidentally, in my opinion, the comma is superfluous in this construction, since the opening quotes indicate the juncture. But that's just my personal preference, and I certainly wouldn't argue in favour of it. I merely mention it as a possibility.)

He said, great magic is simple. This falls somewhere between the two. Arguably, it's a direct quote. Arguably it isn't. And so I'd prefer to use either the quotes (to indicate a direct quote, or the "that" construction (to indicate that words to that effect were said).

Dave

John LeBlanc
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Re: Gramatical question re the Bob Read Article

Postby John LeBlanc » December 21st, 2005, 8:59 am

Originally posted by Werner G. Seitz:
Originally posted by Edwin Corrie:
[b] ...or -He said great magic is simple.
Somehow, putting it this way, doesn't 'sound' correct to me :confused:
I just mean, it doesn't 'sound' correct to me..

Here I would say:

He said, great magic is simple

or better(?), as you mentioned:

He said,"Great magic is simple"

Well, difficult stuff to do correct and there no doubt are different equally correct ways to all this.. [/b]
To explore the differences quotation marks and commas make, take out the phrase "great magic is simple" and substitute this phrase: "I suck" -- and see how that works out.

ADDED: I just noticed what I wrote could be interpreted personally, but I assure you it wasn't meant to be that way at all, Werner. :)

John
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