I can often be heard banging on about how using grammar as a set of rules to write by is an abuse both of grammar and of the writer. 

This little gem is I think as strong a vindication as any of my NSHO. The author of Delineations (once we start to look behind the hyperbole) routinely uses bizarre syntax, and invents words either by applying unconventional suffixes or by dropping syllables. Nonetheless, his meaning is amazingly clear, even separated from us by nearly 200 years, and by this almost infinitely broad vocabulary. The author is certainly verbose; there is hardly a single sentence whose meaning could not be expressed in less words, however there is something compelling in this verbosity. At first, it seems that the author wants to impress - in the style of French academics - with the breadth of his vocabulary and the intricacy of his syntax, but as we advance, we begin to discover that he is taking such liberties with language that reading it is rather like flying. There are no rules at all, and we can go wherever we want - and furthermore, unlike those French academics, he really has something to say, and information to impart.

"This latter mountain of Bein-Each is a Gaelic name, which signify in English tongue, mountain of the horses. It is likely appear and the purport of styling her on the denomination already mentioned, in consequence of some allegation that it was a remarkable for the excellencies of its pasture, or water, salutary for horses; which horses, bred there in time of old, choosed to outrun others at hardship."

No comments: