Then there are other times when people expect you to be able to use language properly (in other words, create proper sentences, use words correctly, and follow the conventions of grammar). You would do this when writing business letters, assignments (such as essays, where formal writing is expected), or reports and documents for a business. Do not confuse formal writing with writing that is overly wordy or official. Formal writing should help the reader understand the text. Example of an overly wordy sentence: “A surfeit of reasons can be provided by writers well versed in language studies as to why writing in the formal style does not necessitate extending the sentence beyond its natural length.” Example of a formal, but clear sentence: “Writing in a formal style does not require sentences to be overly long or confusing.” Concise, clear sentences are essential to the formal writing style.
English ENG2D-B Lesson 2, page 11 Copyright © 2009 The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. All rights reserved. Writing for Other Purposes When writing for specific purposes, such as fiction, you have to decide how to use language effectively. If you were creating a story in which your character used dialogue, for example, you would try to capture that character’s voice. That means you would pick out the phrases, grammatical structures, words, and tone that a character of this age, gender, and background would use when he or she spoke, and try to reproduce them in the dialogue you wrote. • Idioms and dialect are very colourful parts of language. They provide expressions that capture the voice of a character, conveying the local version of a language from a particular region, culture, or family background. Canadians have dialects and regional phrases. For example, if someone said, “I don’t mind what he did,” would you know that he meant, “I don’t remember what he did”? In the story in Lesson 1, you may have noticed the speakers from Cape Breton using some dialect. An example of a British idiom is “keeping up with the Joneses,” which means trying to keep up with your neighbours by buying, for example, the same kind of car or furniture as them. These sayings or phrases are usually passed on to you by your parents or other adults you knew while growing up, and often are accepted without question. Perhaps you can think of an example that has stayed with you from childhood? While idioms are not formal or standard English, they are very colourful when used in anecdotes and personal essays, and convey character well, in certain kinds of writing. • Colloquial words and expressions are informal, conversational expressions that are often used when talking to others, or perhaps sending emails to friends. A dictionary will tell you whether an expression is considered colloquial, if you are not sure whether to use it in a formal piece of writing.
Lesson 2, page 12 English ENG2D-B Copyright © 2009 The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. All rights reserved. Some examples of colloquialisms are: Colloquialisms
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