Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Creating Emphasis I
Placement of words or ideas in a sentence affects emphasis. Words at the beginning and end of a sentence receive the most emphasis; words in the middle the least. Consider the following examples.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who was killed by Jack Ruby, assassinated President Kennedy.
The man who was killed by Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald, assassinated President Kennedy.
Jack Ruby killed the man who assassinated President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald who assassinated President Kennedy.
President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald who was killed by Jack Ruby.
President Kennedy was assassinated by the man killed by Jack Ruby, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Each of these examples says the same thing, but each emphasizes a different noun. For example, in the first sentence, Lee Harvey Oswald is emphasized by placement at the beginning of the sentence. Jack Ruby receives the least emphasis because of placement in the middle of the sentence. With the possible exception of the passive sentences, no sentence is preferable. Rather, one should use the sentence that provides the emphasis the writer desires.