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(NPR)   Intrepid journalists explore what happens when you run the first 13 sentences of "The Sun Also Rises" through the new Hemingway editing app   (npr.org) divider line 26
    More: Amusing, Papa Hemingway, mobile apps, complex sentences, editing, journalists, Gertrude Stein  
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6320 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Mar 2014 at 1:50 AM (20 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



26 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-03-06 12:09:35 AM
 
2014-03-06 01:01:36 AM
It's the attempt to fix the prose to fit the algorithm that seems new and novel here. But frankly, it sucks.
 
2014-03-06 01:57:43 AM
try it with ray carver and see what happens
 
2014-03-06 02:05:07 AM
 
2014-03-06 02:07:18 AM
Utterly idiotic. The asinine tag was asleep at the wheel, I see.
 
2014-03-06 02:10:21 AM
I wish I could get paid for writing this type of shiat.
 
2014-03-06 02:30:46 AM
Hemingway the writer:
"He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton."

NPR-edited app-informed version:
"He cared nothing for boxing. In fact he disliked it. But he learned it. And how to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt when other students treated him as a Jew at Princeton"

Okay, so they updated a bit of diction with "felt on being". But starting sentences with a conjunction HORRID. Particularly in the second case if one doesn't immediately see that it is a continuation of the "but he learned it" sentence. Ugh.
 
2014-03-06 02:36:22 AM

gweilo8888: Utterly idiotic. The asinine tag was asleep at the wheel, I see.


This.
 
2014-03-06 02:42:42 AM

rdyb: Hemingway the writer:
"He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton."

NPR-edited app-informed version:
"He cared nothing for boxing. In fact he disliked it. But he learned it. And how to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt when other students treated him as a Jew at Princeton"

Okay, so they updated a bit of diction with "felt on being". But starting sentences with a conjunction HORRID. Particularly in the second case if one doesn't immediately see that it is a continuation of the "but he learned it" sentence. Ugh.


Yeah, even MSWord would kick that back as pure gibberish.

The correct version should be:
He cared nothing for boxing; in fact he disliked it. He learned it, painfully and thoroughly, in order to counteract the feelings of inferiority and shyness he felt as a mistreated Jewish man at Princeton.
 
2014-03-06 02:50:37 AM
Eh, I wanna see '50 Shades Of Grey' translated into Joseph Decraux-speak!
 
2014-03-06 02:52:20 AM
*Joseph Ducreux*
Sorry, typo.
 
2014-03-06 03:14:09 AM
We think the Hemingway App made the prose of Ernest Hemingway better prose.

No, it makes it more grammatically correct prose.

It also makes it less memorable, less interesting, and removes that indefinable something that REAL writers call "voice." It makes it bland, dull, and indistinguishable from the tedious tripe that English majors crank out in creative typing--excuse me, liberal arts--classes every year. And then go on to wonder howcome they can't succeed in writing the Great American Novel, and become stupid bloggers writing Very Original Reporting for NPR.

Isn't that sad?
 
2014-03-06 04:13:26 AM
How can you have fewer than 0 adverbs?
 
2014-03-06 04:17:13 AM

i upped my meds-up yours: How can you have fewer than 0 adverbs?


Subtractverbs.
 
2014-03-06 07:29:51 AM
Like most great writers, Hemingway broke the rules because he understood them so well that he knew when he could break them to achieve the effect he wanted. A computer can't do that.
 
2014-03-06 07:35:56 AM
The text through an Ebonics translator...
hn wuz once middleweight boxing champion o' Princeton. Do not think dat ah be [very] much impressed by dat as uh boxing title, but it meant uh lot ta Cohn. He cared nuttin' fo' boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it PAINFULLY an' THOROUGHLY ta counteract da feeling o' inferiority an' shyness he had felt on *being treated* as uh Jew at Princeton. dere wuz uh certain inner comfort in knowing he could knock down anybody who wuz snooty ta him, although, being [very] shy an' uh THOROUGHLY nice boy, he never fought except in da gym. He wuz Spider KELLY'S star pupil. Spider KELLY taught all his young gentlemen ta bawx like featherweights, nahh matter whether dey weighed one hundred an' five or two hundred an' five pounds. But it seemed ta fit Cohn. He wuz REALLY [very] fast. He wuz so pimp-tight dat Spider PROMPTLY overmatched him an' gots his nose PERMANENTLY flattened. dis here increased Cohn's distaste fo' boxing, but it gave him uh certain satisfaction o' some strange sort, an' it CERTAINLY improved his nose. In his last year at Princeton he read too much an' took ta wearing spectacles. ah never met any one o' his class who remembered him. dey did not even remember dat he wuz middleweight boxing champion in the hood
- See more at: http://joel.net/EBONICS/Translator#sthash.z7L4vfoJ.dpuf
 
2014-03-06 07:47:07 AM

ChubbyTiger: Like most great writers, Hemingway broke the rules because he understood them so well that he knew when he could break them to achieve the effect he wanted. A computer can't do that.


Not yet it can't.

They've already got algorithms writing sports reporting and advising on movie scripts.  I bet it won't be many years before they're pumping out "original" stuff using the inputs of pretty much everything that's come before them.
 
2014-03-06 08:25:10 AM

i upped my meds-up yours: How can you have fewer than 0 adverbs?


Exactly what I was going to ask... I really want to see a sentence with negative adverbs in it!
 
2014-03-06 08:38:32 AM

RobSeace: i upped my meds-up yours: How can you have fewer than 0 adverbs?

Exactly what I was going to ask... I really want to see a sentence with negative adverbs in it!


She walked down the street DISTASTEFULLY.
 
2014-03-06 09:07:24 AM

rdyb: But starting sentences with a conjunction [is] HORRID.


But it's not! :)

This is a fantastic article, by the way, not the article itself, actually, just the topic. Like many, I'm a novelist-wannabe, and that's led me to various writing critique groups over the years. I've learned to be very picky about my groups and about the comments I receive. It would be fun to take a lesser known Hemingway work and present it to a critique group as my own writing, just to listen to the peanut gallery comments.
 
2014-03-06 09:26:56 AM
FTFA:  Even the creators of the app - brothers Adam and Ben Long - tried running Ernest Hemingway through Hemingway. "Hemingway is a tool, and like all tools, it doesn't know when you intentionally violate its rules," Ben, 23, a copywriter in New York, tells us.

I don't think that the app is the only tool here.

/Copywriter is code for failed novelist.
//Copywriter.
 
2014-03-06 09:42:37 AM
Blah.  If you're a writer -- one who at the very least is aware of the rules -- then don't even bother with crap like this.  Those who are aware of the rules would also be aware of when it's okay to break them, especially the more contentious ones, like using the passive voice (nothing wrong with that) or ending sentences with a preposition (nor that).  Prescriptivists make lousy, thoroughly forgettable writers.

Besides, many of the original rules Strunk & White came up with were extracted directly from each other's anuses.
Especially White's.
 
2014-03-06 11:19:32 AM

Psychopusher: Blah.  If you're a writer -- one who at the very least is aware of the rules -- then don't even bother with crap like this.  Those who are aware of the rules would also be aware of when it's okay to break them, especially the more contentious ones, like using the passive voice (nothing wrong with that) or ending sentences with a preposition (nor that).  Prescriptivists make lousy, thoroughly forgettable writers.

Besides, many of the original rules Strunk & White came up with were extracted directly from each other's anuses.
Especially White's.


The rules are very important. For people like me, a functional but mediocre writer (journal articles, reports, etc - not literature), the rules are necessary to keep the level of suck down. If you're good enough, you know where and when to break them and still maintain readability. Without those rules, writing would be atrocious; if everyone followed them, writing would be boring.
 
2014-03-06 12:59:57 PM

ChubbyTiger: Psychopusher: Blah.  If you're a writer -- one who at the very least is aware of the rules -- then don't even bother with crap like this.  Those who are aware of the rules would also be aware of when it's okay to break them, especially the more contentious ones, like using the passive voice (nothing wrong with that) or ending sentences with a preposition (nor that).  Prescriptivists make lousy, thoroughly forgettable writers.

Besides, many of the original rules Strunk & White came up with were extracted directly from each other's anuses.
Especially White's.

The rules are very important. For people like me, a functional but mediocre writer (journal articles, reports, etc - not literature), the rules are necessary to keep the level of suck down. If you're good enough, you know where and when to break them and still maintain readability. Without those rules, writing would be atrocious; if everyone followed them, writing would be boring.


Well, that was sort of my poorly-phrased point.  Most of the rules are perfectly sensible and make for better writing.  The problems, as I see them, arise when you get those who follow them -- all of them -- too closely.  That's when someone who might otherwise have been a good writer, had they allowed themselves the creative freedom to develop their own voice, ends up firmly mediocre at best because their "voice" comes only from the set of rules they closely follow.  That might work for journalists who tend to often tend to follow AP's Manual of Style, but it does creative writers no favours.

You don't even have to be good, necessarily, you just have to understand which of the rules are essential and make perfect sense and which were just made up by Strunk & White because it's how they preferred to write -- that is, when they (well, mostly EB White) weren't breaking their own rules.

I don't claim to be a good writer by any stretch, but I know enough to understand what's required and what I feel I can just chuck because it's arbitrary and subjective.  Because, to adapt a well-known turn of phrase, prescriptive writing in creative endeavours is something up with which I will not put.
 
2014-03-06 01:19:21 PM

PunGent: ChubbyTiger: Like most great writers, Hemingway broke the rules because he understood them so well that he knew when he could break them to achieve the effect he wanted. A computer can't do that.

Not yet it can't.

They've already got algorithms writing sports reporting and advising on movie scripts.  I bet it won't be many years before they're pumping out "original" stuff using the inputs of pretty much everything that's come before them.


"What you have to understand, Neo, is that the Matrix.... (etc. etc.)...some rules can be bent, others broken."
 
2014-03-07 02:18:08 AM
If Hemingway was the inspiration for the stunted, halting Dick-and-Jane prose that article is written in, to hell with Hemingway.
 
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