Stanley Fish talks about the importance of sentence structure in instruction, relates it to life, and explains how these “little” aspects make up brilliant content. Chapter three and four discuss the contents of a good sentence and how the intended meaning does not matter in sentence structure.
People often get dazed by the brilliance of the world, inventions, and the human beings themselves. Human beings fail to look at the simple aspects or the efforts that lead to the genius creations, masterpiece novels, blockbuster movies, and personal fame. One may find it interesting to read a breathtaking novel, article or theater script.
However, most people end up admiring the final product without paying notice to the simple sentence structures that make up this interesting reads. Rhyming words, verb agreement, syllables, word choice, word order, use of vocabulary and wordiness affect the format of a sentence. People should start appreciating the small things in life because, without them, the ‘greater’ outcomes would not be possible.
John Grisham, Dan Brown, Sydney Sheldon, J.K. Rowling, and William Shakespeare are some of the world’s most notable writers of romance, fiction, adventure and poetry. Critics have always disregarded other upcoming writers or those writers who fail to evolve with time.
The novelists or movie scriptwriters who fail fall out of favor with the public due to lack of evolution or creativity. Stanley Fish states that a verbal fluency is achieved through hours of writing nonsense until a writer arrives at a final masterpiece (Fish 32). Fish uses the musical analogy to explain this fact. Most musicians scribble pages of lyrics trying to come up with the perfect song only to throw them away.
Classical musicians such as Mozart also experimented with notes and keys until that point they came up with their majestic musical movements and concertos. The key point is that the building blocks of these major and great works were simple musical notes, words, or syllables, which means that even meaningless sentences are useful in understanding sentence structure.
Noam Chomsky explains the concept of nonsensical ideas using the “colorless green ideas sleep furiously” sequence. The sentence has a well-structured format, but makes no sense. If one reverses the words to “furiously sleep ideas green colorless”, the sequence bears no grammatical or structural sense. Therefore, by looking at this example, one understands the “simple” aspects that make up a sentence.
Form is the building block of all inventions in the world of literature, poetry, and music. A sentence cannot be used to create great content without form (Fish 33). In comedy, people often laugh at Kevin Hart’s jokes without considering the effort it took to create a joke. The same applies to sentences. One needs to appreciate the effort, practice, and choice of a comedian’s sentence structure and form to draw meaning from the verbal content.
There are many people that are not funny, even if they were paid to crack jokes. Some things are just inborn in people and cannot be explained. Whether it is instinct, talent, research, experience, there are those people that do things better than others. The same applies for sentences because not all human beings use the same vocabulary. Not all people are outspoken and good orators or writers. Therefore, one should not work to be like other people.
On the contrary, people should write personal thoughts and make personal evaluations out of things. Some sentences may be strange to human understanding because of poor form. In Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, the phrase “the slithy toves” is easy to understand because the rules of structure state that the phrase should have a noun and an adjective (par. 1).
If the phrase consisted of two adjectives like “the agitated beautiful”, the sentence would not make sense. If one were to be told to substitute one adjective for a noun, most people would do it. However, few would explain how they did it and how they knew it was the correct thing to do (Fish 35).
The same case applies to cooking, cracking jokes, acting a film, writing a novel, composing music, or singing a song. Most people would not explain how they come up with the final brilliant ideas because they would have to consider the analytical and subconscious inferences they make without knowing they were doing it.
Making that extra mile of considering these analytical and conscious inferences enables one to understand the ideology of form and structure. Understanding this concept enables one to appreciate the various structures that are instrumental in the development of the jokes, movies, songs, novels, and poems that people admire today (Fish 36).
People should start appreciating the small things in life because, without them, the ‘greater’ outcomes would not be possible. As shown in the analysis, grammatical and semantic structures make up literature, poetry, lyrics or other forms of content. Human beings should understand the building blocks of sentence structure and form to appreciate fully what the artist or writer intends to convey. Sometimes, people are quick to judge others but fail to notice the simple things in life because they are the key to innovation.
Fish, Stanley. “It is Not the Thought That Counts.” How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One. New York: Harper, 2011. 32-40. Print.
Carroll, Lewis. n.d. Jabberwocky – Carroll. n.d. Web. 2014.