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this. The labor of composition begins when you have to put your separate threads of thought into a loom; to weave them into a continuous whole; to connect, to introduce them; to blow them out or expand them; to carry them to a close.” No rule can be given for this process further than this: Each sentence must express an idea different from the preceding, and at the same time bear such a close relation to it as naturally to arise from it. Frequently sentences are thrown in for no other purpose than that of making an easy and natural transition from one thought to another.
b. Sometimes the transition is effected by repeating a word or by the use of a conjunction or some other phrase of reference. But these formal connectives avail little unless there is the inner connection mentioned above. Thoughts so ordered as to suggest in themselves their connection, so that the preceding directs the mind toward the succeeding, need no formal introduction. Whatever means the writer uses, he should so vary them and introduce them as not to betray the process. This gives rise to what is called an “easy and flowing style,” than which nothing is more effort-saving or agreeable in ordinary discourse.
The student will here find profit in making a study of graceful transition as illustrated by some master of it, as Irving or Addison.
C. The paragraph is a valuable aid in making the transition to a new division or phase of the theme, and of indicating the connection of thoughts with the new idea. The law of unity which pertains to the sentence and to the discourse as a whole controls the formation of the paragraph.
The foregoing has already suggested that each thought should be a step forward. Each in rising out of the preceding gives an upward and an onward movement to the discourse as a whole. The whole should be continuous and cumulative, compact and organic.
3. The theme, to be clearly apprehended by the reader or auditor, must be held before the mind long enough to secure the necessary attention. The theme must not only be given its distinct features and full outline, as required by the law of completeness in the thought processes, but it must be variously turned to the light, and viewed over and over again in new turns of thought and phrase, in order to gain the requisite amount of activity on the part of the interpreter. Perhaps no point of skill is more essential to the composer than that of artful amplification and fullness of expression by which the thought moves no faster than
art in oral than in written speech; for in the latter, the reader may review at pleasure, while in the former, the expression vanishes with the utterance. Care is needed, however, that fullness does not become prolixity. The speaker, in addressing an audience composed of people of different grades of culture, finds himself constrained, on the one hand, by the necessity of full elaboration lest his thought be missed; and, on the other hand, by the necessity of brevity lest prolixity defeat the purpose of his utterance.
4. The last condition to economical interpretation of discourse is, that the thought be embodied in language in obedience to the laws of Unity, Method, Selection, and Completeness of the thought, as already considered under the discourse processes. These laws were there discussed as a means of enabling the recipient to appropriate the thought in itself considered, without special reference to the expression of it. But thought thus organized gives that form and organization to the language which makes it the easiest approach to the thought.
Let the expression, therefore, be moulded by the laws of Unity, Method, Selection, and Completeness, as the most fundamental condition to economical interpretation.
THE INDIRECT RELATION OF LANGUAGE TO THOUGHT.
The interpretation of indirect, or figurative, language requires a peculiar act of the mind; namely, that of grasping an idea through indirect relations. Through this peculiar activity the qualities of Clearness, Energy, and Elegance are most effectively secured. It is through such activity that the mind has its deeper
tive act of the mind which reaches the hidden meaning of things, as well as the supreme organizing act which finds the meaning of the whole in each of the parts.
Literal language is language which has an established relation between its form and its content. Figurative language is any variation from this established relation for the purpose of effective utterance. The dictionary and the grammar treasure up current and established usage; but a writer, under the higher law of discourse, removes the boundaries thus set, and orders language to his own peculiar necessity.
Hawthorne, in describing Thoreau to Longfellow, said that Thoreau had iron-poker-stickishness in his make up. This is no part of our established language; but it is made out of literal language forms to meet
Victor Hugo says, “ Pleasing a bishop is a foot in the stirrup for a sub-deaconry.” “Foot in the stirrup” here has not the established relation to its idea. The dictionary knows nothing of this meaning. The writer puts this language form in a new relation — one of his own creating — for the purpose of communicating more effectively his idea of how to gain a sub-deaconry. The peculiar and original turns of thought and the necessities of utterance cannot be provided for in language beforehand. The individual writer, in the stress of composition, must order to his own necessity the materials furnished him in the form of literal language. The greater the creative power of the writer and the higher the tension of his thought, the more will his language diverge from literal statement.
A figure, since it results from the bending of literal language into more effective forms of utterance, is not a mere ornament, but a necessity. It gives to an otherwise limited and abstract vocabulary richness, fullness, and power. From a few literal root words, through the necessity of using them figuratively to express shades of meaning for which no form of expression was supplied, our language has grown to its present compass and flexibility. While the number of ideas and thoughts are unlimited, the language forms are limited; and necessarily so by the law of economy in learning and using language. How to express the infinite number of ideas and thoughts in all their variety and shades of meaning by means of a comparatively limited vocabulary is the great problem in language; and the effort to solve this in practice has been the force that has shaped language in every phase of its growth. When a literal word is used in seventeen different figurative applications, as the dictionary shows to have been the case with the word head, it is equivalent to a seventeen-fold increase of the vocabulary. By the frequent use of the word in the same figurative application, its figurative meaning becomes literal. Thus the increase in the vocabulary. Most words have a figurative origin. All words expressing mental operations were at first figuratively employed; i.e., these operations were expressed through their relation to
in the increase of the literal vocabulary, but in the wider extent of application of the figurative words themselves, before they become literal. The literal is constantly encroaching upon the figurative, but discharging its obligations to the figurative by making possible new applications when the necessity arises. The extent of the figurative application of words is much wider than that of the literal. The dictionary