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10:22am on Sunday, 30th April, 2006:



I bought a book on Amazon this week, The History of Hornsea, East Yorkshire. This book is likely to be of no interest whatsoever to anyone with no connection to the place, as its opening sentence makes clear:

Hornsea is an unremarkable town in East Yorkshire, in Holderness, in the far east of the county where the land abruptly reaches the sea in low crumbling red-brown cliffs.

Hornsea's being my home town, however, I'm one of the few people who is interested in it, and this book contains a lot of historical information of which I was only vaguely aware before. Of its major sources, two were written by people who taught me at school, which is a pleasant surprise.


This is the second sentence in the book:

A liminal place, a 'place on the margins', where land and sea meet.

Excuse me, but shouldn't sentences contain, you know, governing verbs? All we have here is a noun phrase: what about a liminal place is the author trying to tell us? Augh!

The entire book is like this. The author seems to regard full stops as functionally equivalent to colons. He makes a statement, then adds noun phrases as if they were separate sentences somehow qualifying what went before them but nevertheless separate. I thought American texts were bad in this regard (I cringe at the way my prose has been Americanised — oops, Americanized — for a forthcoming article in The Escapist), but I understand that if it's their country and if they want to ride roughshod over fundamental principles of grammar, that's up to them. Hornsea, however, is not just my country, not just my county, not just my riding, not just my wapentake, but my home town. If the only people who are likely to read this book are going to come from Hornsea, isn't it just a little presumptious to assume we're going to be happy with crazed reworkings of the English language?

Here are the opening two sentences to the paragraph at the top of page 32, which finally tipped me over the edge:

And there was the mere itself, much larger and deeper then. A graded transition from forest to open water: a semi-terrestrial environment of light, open woodland, where it was just dry enough for water-loving trees to grow; alder carr; sedge and reed beds; fringing beds of yellow and white water lilies in profusion; and then open water.

I can't take any more of this. I'm going to look at the pictures and then assign it to the bookshelf for reference.

Referenced by Hornsea Beck.

Referenced by Windy Town.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).