Eight Weeks of Syntax

So the next eight weeks or so of my reading and writing life will be all about syntax. Seriously, truly, deeply about syntax. (quick, why is the latter NOT a fundamental English sentence??). Not just syntax as grammar, though—syntax as order, as counterpoint to the music of meter, as a constant series of choices about how meaning will be built.

I’m reading Ellen Bryant Voigt’s The Art of Syntax, so expect many quotations and insights from samesaid. First, this, from her introduction, comparing musical ear-training and sight-reading to language:

When what we read is written not in musical notation but in words, those patterns are embedded in the syntax of the language. Writers who employ them with wit and surprise, with satisfying musical structure, with clarity of purpose and subtlety of meaning, provide us one of the greatest satisfactions of the literary arts. And the art most attentive to pattern if every kind is poetry.


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