Scholarly Debate: The Run-on Sentence.

Posted: April 8, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Off-topic

This brief interrupt in our technology coverage is once again brought on by my journalism class.  For many years my teachers have criticized my use of run-on sentences.  A run-on sentence is one which is longer than an ambiguous, arbitrary length that is considered reasonable for the human attention span.  The overuse of adjectives and ‘fluff’ is considered to be wasteful and grammatically improper.  The problem lies in that I often write extremely lengthy, grammatically immaculate sentences, in which the additional adjectives are used in proper form to clarify the main concept beyond any doubt.  Most of this paragraph was composed of them.

My first point would be that the run-on sentence is not part of clearly defined English grammar.  It’s mostly used subjectively by professors and critics based on their own attention span.  My contention is that the more data that can be absorbed in a single burst, the less further explanation is required.  While it would be considered rambling in spoken conversation (which I often do), a person can read at their own pace in print.  As long as the subject is focused and the additional language is not just frippery, I so no reason to impose arbitrary strictures.

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