J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fifty-two Words, One Diagram

For some reason, nothing will do today but to pick up this image of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution “diagrammed,” found on the delightful Separated by a Common Language blog, and originally from Hartford’s own Capital Community College Foundation.

No, I never had to learn how to diagram a sentence in school. And this approach to analyzing sentence structure and grammar was unknown in the eighteenth century. But the formal prose of that era required long, complex, cascading sentences, and diagramming can help show how those sentences make sense.

Eugene Montoux has diagrammed an even longer and more complex sentence—the opening of the Declaration of Independence—as well as several Amendments.

1 comment:

Monica Edinger said...

I did have to diagram in school and LOVED it. Didn't help me as a writer one iota, but it was like finishing crossword puzzle. This is very cool!