Diagramming “nuance”

The Muller report has been in the news a lot lately, and while I don’t want to wade into politics here, something on a recent cable news show caught my ear. Presidential historian Jon Meacham was talking about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the way his reportand his speech on May 29 — were filled with words carefully chosen to convey just the right nuance. Then he said “It’s hard to diagram some of those sentences,” (here’s the video; it’s about 5 minutes in) and, well, challenge accepted, Mr. Meacham.

Interestingly enough, most of the sentences in Mr. Mueller’s speech were grammatically straightforward. Mueller, or one of his aides, clearly understood that when writing for the ear, as opposed to the eye, short, simple sentences are clearest. I’ve chosen two of the longer ones to diagram here;

First, “The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system.”

Diagram of sentence "The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system."

Second, “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Diagram of sentence ""When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable."

 

There, now, that wasn’t so hard!

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