Adventures in bad parallelism
Posted: 07 November 2007 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Not really about origins, but too good to pass up…

From an article on isp.netscape.com about ridiculous obsolete British laws:

“The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen.”

[ Edited: 07 November 2007 03:07 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 07 November 2007 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t understand the thread title, or at least I hope I don’t, but anyway ...
If you’d followed the link lower on the page, you’d have found a more relevant article about Elizabethan insults.

[ Edited: 07 November 2007 03:27 PM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 07 November 2007 09:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The title reference is to the bad parallelism in the construction of the sentence.

Parallelism

And that one is a doozy!

I’m puzzled in turn as to what makes the Elizabethan insults ‘more relevant’.

[ Edited: 07 November 2007 09:24 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 08 November 2007 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for explaining that, aldi, but your link doesn’t work, though I found another wiki article which speaks of parallelism in grammar relating to structure, rather than meaning.  eg She likes reading, running and to bake.

Bartleby.com:

Parallelism is a stylistic arrangement in which similar syntactic patterns repeat, thus allowing reader or listener to rely on the grammatical repetition to echo the logical similarity of the thought and thus improving the clarity and efficiency of the passage: The new car was too small, too brightly colored, and too expensive. He was tall and homely, and she was short and pretty.

and:

English teachers have long tried to root out faulty parallelisms, wherein, usually on either side of an and or a but, the writer places functionally different rather than functionally similar structures: He likes to swim and diving too. Only crude faulty parallelisms usually bother us; we speak and write a good many more that go unnoticed. One of the most noticeable, however, is the and who clause out of parallel with a preceding phrasal modifier: My father is a teacher very knowledgeable about his subject and who shows great enthusiasm as well. Say or write either My father is a teacher who is … and who shows … or My father is a teacher very knowledgeable … and very enthusiastic as well.

Can someone explain to me and anyone else out there if parallelism can encompass meaning as well, or is Dr Techie
wrong?

edit:  I wonder how long it’ll be before Dr T claims that having his name next to the word “wrong” is definitely bad parallelism.

[ Edited: 08 November 2007 03:59 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 08 November 2007 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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to echo the logical similarity of the thought

...seems clearly related to meaning.

“property of the king” and “tail of the queen” are constructed and placed so as to make them seem like parallel constructions, but are not “logically similar”; they have to be parsed very differently to obtain the meaning the writer intended.

Style guide advice on parallelism usually focuses on expressing parallel thoughts in parallel constructions, instead of different constructions.  Here we see the other side of the coin: false parallelism of construction that misleadingly implies parallel thoughts.

[ Edited: 08 November 2007 11:56 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 19 November 2007 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The structure suggested a meaning, the words a different one, and the collision of expectation with reality was funny.  Thanks Dr. Techie.

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