The Emphasis Principle



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The Emphasis Principle

  • “Rethinking the Teaching of Grammar”
  • by Rei R. Noguchi
  • The English Record,
  • Vol. 52(2), 2002, pp. 22-26
  • PowerPoint Presentation Created by Elizabeth M. Hanson

Teaching Grammar,

  • especially the
  • “drill and kill”
  • type of instruction,
  • may not improve
  • the quality of grammar.

Principles of Writing,

  • Not Rules of Grammar,
  • should be stressed
  • when teaching
  • expository writing.

Grammar rules

  • have limited effects.
  • Never place a preposition
  • at the end of a sentence.”
  • Never use the passive voice.”

Principles of Writing, however,

  • hold true
  • in many situations.

The Emphasis Principle

  • guides
  • the entire
  • writing process,
  • from start to finish.

The Emphasis Principle:

Key Ideas are accentuated

    • Bill ate a ham sandwich yesterday for lunch.
    • For lunch, Bill ate a ham sandwich yesterday.
    • Yesterday for lunch, Bill ate a ham sandwich.

The Emphasis Principle:

Active versus Passive Voice

  • The active voice is not always right.
  • “Don’t write in the passive” can violate
  • the Emphasis Principle.

Active versus Passive Voice

  • CHOOSE THE BEST ANSWER:
    • The audience wondered
    • who would get the
    • science award.
    • Maria won it.
    • It was won by Maria.

Answer B is correct

  • b. It was won by Maria.
  • It refers to the science award, which is
  • old information.
  • Maria refers to the winner, which is new information.

Prepositions and Emphasis

  • Pre + position means
  • “not last
  • in the sentence.”
  • This is the old Latin rule.

Prepositions and Emphasis

  • “Where is he at?” violates this Latin rule.
  • “Where is he?” seems to solve the mystery.

Prepositions and Emphasis

  • Yet, “Where is he?” can
  • be vague or ambiguous.
  • “Where is he near?”
  • “Where is he behind?”
  • “Where is he next to?”

The Emphasis Principle

The Emphasis Principle

The Emphasis Principle

  • (5) ensures that the entire essay is driven by the correct placement of new information in the most salient positions so that the essay supports the thesis.

The Emphasis Principle

The Emphasis Principle

  • organizes essays so the best idea is presented last to conclude the essay.

The Emphasis Principle

  • is an integrative guide for arranging information, and
  • is a holistic explanation for the informational structure of an essay.

The Emphasis Principle

  • has more potential for improving the overall writing quality
  • than any single
  • grammar rule.

Most importantly,

  • the
  • Emphasis Principle
  • is teachable.


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