Cohesion and Coherence
(This exercise is
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
Scroll down for the handout and translations.
makes these passages so baffling? Translate them into more coherent
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
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
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
member's recollection; consequently we accept the convention
that the official decisions are those and only those which have
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
consideration, the considered view of the committee was that
while they considered that the proposal met with broad approval
that some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in
principle and some of the considerations so complex and finely
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
new proposal with existing principles, and the principle of the
principle arguments which the proposal proposes and propounds
for their approval, in principle.
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.