APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2008-02 > 1203490072
Subject: Re: [APG] Re; FTM and natural
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 00:47:52 -0600
> I will leave it to the experience TMG users to comment, but I do believe
> user has total control over the sentence structure. So, if the output is
> "clumsy and stilted," one has only himself or herself to blame.
Drats, Richard! Here we go disagreeing again, after all our years of singing
in pretty good harmony :).
The only way to have "total control over the sentence structure" is to take
a blank piece of paper--or a blank screen in a word-processing program--and
Sure, in good programs we can individually craft our own sentences for each
event type. The result is that every time we enter data for that record
type, the sentence repeats itself in the same format. On the 1860 census,
taken 18 July of that year, Englebert was identified as a trapeze artist. On
the 1870 census, taken 5 July of that year, Englebert was identified as a
juggler. On the 1880 census, taken 1 June of that year, Englebert was
identified as a sword swallower; the census taker then added a note that
Englebert died later that day of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Sure, we can even go to the trouble to write "alternative" sentences for
each record type, so that we can spice up our writing by varying them: Model
A, this time, Model C next time. However, we cannot determine what structure
we need for any given sentence without knowing exactly what is said in the
sentence before it and after it--something that is not possible with
genealogical databases because we're constantly adding new events in between
those events where we already fed our data into Model X, Model P, and Model
And, sure, dear Editor and Writer Richard: You knew all this before I was
born (well, I exaggerate some here :). But once we start "doing genealogy"
using those wonderful databases that help us keep track of everything we've
collected, we tend to forget that a paragraph is not just a collection of
sentences plugged together until it seems to be long enough that we need to
start a new paragraph--and that an account of a human life is not just a
collection of pre-structured sentences with explanations or notes added
between some of them.
Even in writing this message, as I wrote each sentence, my choice of what
thought I'd express next and what words I'd use to express it depended
entirely upon what went before it. And then, when I was done, I went back
and revised some of the sentences to make them more coherent.
Why is it, when we "write genealogy," we tend to suspend everything we
learned in school about the craft of effective writing?
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
APG member, Tennessee
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