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Notes for
from One is One
by Barbara Leonie Picard (chapter 2 part 2)
Quiz AK S C - Combining

This passage, which was suggested and submitted by Celia in Wollongong, Australia, should make an excellent assessment quiz for April of Grade Nine -- the end, in the ideal KISS curriculum, of three years of work on clauses. The passage is a bit long for an assessment quiz, but it starts rather simply and then includes some challenging embedded clauses. Additional advantages are that the clauses are complicated by compound finite verbs, but the only other complex constructions are two appositives and one gerund (used as the object of a preposition. Thus, in an assessment of their ability to untangle complex clause structures, students will not be distracted by numerous verbals.
     The passage is also interesting from the perspective of syntax and style. Three relatively short main clauses establish Stephen's arrival at Richley Abbey. These are then followed by a 70-word main clause that describes Abbot Waldo  The average main clause written by professional writers is approximately twenty words long, so this single-main-clause sentence is more than three times the average in length, and it is packed with details, including the word "impressed." It is an impressive sentence that establishes the Abbot as an impressive and important person. This sentence is followed by another that consists of two main clauses. In the first (15 words long), the Abbott receives an explanation from Godfrey, and in the second he "had received" a gift of gold pieces. This tends to suggest that the richly impressive Abbot is a man toward whom authority and material wealth flow. As the son of a vinter who had impressed upon him respect for "the old noble families," the Abbot appears to invite and enjoy the respect and gifts that he now receives from these very families.
     This is further suggested by an irony in the final sentence in the selection. It tells us that the Abbot "asked at great length after the Earl and inquired about the health of the Countess," but the brevity of the sentence (eighteen words) undercuts the "at great length." In any text, the number of words devoted to a topic by the writer naturally implies the relative importance of the topic to the writer. It appears from this passage that the Abbot's concern and respect for himself is much more significant than is his concern and respect for others.
     The length of some of the sentences makes this passage a natural candidate for sentence de-combining and combining exercises. I have created one version of a combining exercise, but you may want to give students the quiz text and have them decombine it. As always, class discussion of the various ways in which sentences can be combined and de-combined should prove very useful in helping students understand not only sentence structure, but also its stylistic effects.
     However you use this exercise, you should probably prepare the students for some of the vocabulary first. Do the students know what an abbott is? A vinter? Equanimity?