Welcome to the newest feature on Far Outer Hebrides: The Construction of the Week. In this segment, I’ll introduce you to a writing strategy that seems particularly relevant. Wow your boss with unexpected but tasteful humour; amaze your friends with your well-turned phrases. All here on
Construction of the Week.
Today’s construction: The Short List
A list of examples can add clarity to your work, provided that the examples are well chosen. You can take the construction a step further by slipping a last, unexpected item in at the end. The item by itself is both accurate and innocuous, but in context? Comedy gold. Tasteful enough to include in your dissertation, yet entertaining enough that someone might continue reading your dissertation.
Consider this example from nearly two centuries ago.
Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth talked of all that had occurred during their visit, as they returned, except what had particularly interested them both. The looks and behaviour of every body they had seen were discussed, except of the person who had mostly engaged their attention. They talked of his sister, his friends, his house, his fruit…
– Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The characters had, indeed, just partaken of a very fine fruit platter at the Darcy estate. Was the quality of said fruit of quite the same import as the quality of his sister? Perhaps not.
Today, while researching quite a diferent topic, I came across this highly informative gem.
WATERPROOFING IN MM TRANSLATED
5000mm-15,000mm: totally rainproof and generally waterproof unless under serious pressure (extended sitting, submersion, heavy people sitting)…
35,000mm and up: Solid vessels and non-porous materials. Will deform or fail catastrophically before leaking. Nalgene bottles, rubber galoshes, aircraft carriers.
Again, the art is in choosing an item that technically fills the same criteria as the others, but triggers the ‘one of these things is not like the others’ region of the brain.
Thank you for tuning in to this week’s edition of ‘Construction of the Week’. Stay tuned for next week’s instalment: Something Completely Different.