Coherence and Cohesion: Yes, Minister


Cohesion and Coherence
(This exercise is best done as a lark when you're through with sentence-level issues.)
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 30 minutes

These passages all come from the British television series Yes, Minister (which turned into the series Yes, Prime Minister), written by Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. The show featured a character named Sir Humphrey Davies, a civil servant who frequently tried to obscure his meaning through language. Distribute the handout, ask students to read the passages aloud, diagnose Sir Humphrey's style troubles, and rewrite his words so that their meaning is obvious.
 
Scroll down for the handout and translations.
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What makes these passages so baffling? Translate them into more coherent prose.
 
a. The relationship, which I might tentatively venture to aver has not been without a degree of reciprocal utility and even perhaps occasional gratification, is approaching the point of irreversible bifurcation and, to put it briefly, is in the propinquity of its ultimate regrettable termination.
 
 
 
b. Apparently, the fact that the Home Secretary needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, therefore those that needed to advise and inform the Home Secretary perhaps felt the information he needed as to whether to inform the highest authority of the known information was not yet known and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not, at that time, known or needed.
 
 
 
c. It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them, and that every member's recollection of them differs violently from every other member's recollection; consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials; from which it emerges with elegant inevitability, that any decision which has been officially reached would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and any decision which is not recorded in the minutes by the officials has not been officially reached, even if one or more members believe they can recollect it; so in this particular case, if the decision would have been officially reached, it would have been recorded in the minutes by the officials and it isn't so it wasn't.
 
 
 
d. Well, it's clear that the committee has agreed that your new policy is a really excellent plan but in view of some of the doubts being expressed, may I propose that I recall that after careful consideration, the considered view of the committee was that while they considered that the proposal met with broad approval in principle, that some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in principle and some of the considerations so complex and finely balanced in practice, that, in principle, it was proposed that the sensible and prudent practice would be to submit the proposal for more detailed consideration, laying stress on the essential continuity of the new proposal with existing principles, and the principle of the principle arguments which the proposal proposes and propounds for their approval, in principle.
 
 
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Translations:

 
a. Although we've sometimes been pleased and helped by this relationship, we will soon end it.
 
b. Apparently no one knew that the Home Secretary needed this information, or that it was okay to tell you the information.
 
c. Because committee members often recall meetings differently, we rely on the minutes for an official record of what the committee discussed and decided. The minutes don't include the decision you're talking about, so we don't think the committee reached that decision.
 
d. Though the committee liked your new policy, they had some reservations and decided to study it further.