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2.4 Clause Analysis

Clause Analysis

You have to show that they can analyse clauses to get the highest marks.

Whenever you analyse a text, you must choose one sentence which you can take apart and comment on its structure:

1.     The type of sentence it is:

–          Simple

–          Compound

–          Complex

–          Compound Complex

2.     The function of the sentence:

–          Declarative

–          Interrogative

–          Exclamatory

–          Imperative

3.     The make up of the sentence, labelling the sentence’s components:

–          Main Clause

–          Subordinate Clause

–          Prepositional Phrase / Adverbial

–          Non-Finite Clause

–          Relative Clause

–          Noun Phrase

–          Embedded/Parenthetic Phrase

–          Embedded/Parenthetic Clause

–          Subject

–          Object

–          Complement

–          Verb Phrase

4.     The order of the sentence’s components:

–          Which component is put at the front of the sentence = Fronting, Front Loading, Front Focus

–          Which component is hidden away inside the sentence = Embedded

–          Which component is tagged on at the end = End Focus

This skill has to be practised slavishly to reinforce the kinds of things that you can say about sentences, clauses and phrases – in terms of how the author is drawing the reader’s attention a certain way or create a specific impact.

Every phrase or clause will have a specific reason for

a)     its inclusion

b)    its position

You must give specific reasons for each of these aspects of a sentence component

e.g.

Madonna finished the North American leg of her Sticky and Sweet tour last week in front of 50,000 people at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, before heading south to Mexico City.               (bbc.co.uk)

a)     Madonna finished the North American leg –Main Clause

b)    of her Sticky and Sweet tour – Prepositional Phrase / Adverbial

c)     last week – Prepositional Phrase / Adverbial

d)    in front of 50,000 people – Prepositional Phrase/ Adverbial

e)     at Dolphin Stadium – Prepositional Phrase/ Adverbial

f)     in Miami– Prepositional Phrase/ Adverbial

g)    before heading south – Non-Finite Clause

h)     to Mexico City– Prepositional Phrase / Adverbial

i)      Madonna – subject

j)      the North American leg – object & noun phrase

…so what can be said once you deconstruct the sentence?

In the typical fashion of newspaper reports, this never ending sentence has adverbials tagged on at the end in order to add on more and more information about the sentence’s subject or object, (object in this case), before introducing a non-finite clause and its attendant prepositional phrase to squeeze in a little more information about just what else the sentence’s subject will be up to – namely “heading south”. The effect is to create a sense that Madonna has packed a great deal into her hectic lifestyle, whereas the basics of what Madonna did could be reported much more succinctly in a single simple sentence such as “Madonna is touring in North and Central America.”

But it’s all down to what sentence you pick out. A sentence such as:

Running through the tall grass, with the morning’s dew clinging to her skin, Bingo thought of Rex, of his long hair and of his jagged looks until she felt a sharper wetness on her forehead and lost her sight as the blood from the wound streamed into her eyes.      The Love That Dare Not Speak its Name – M Roughly

a)     Running through the tall grass – Non-Finite Clause

b)    with the morning’s dew clinging to her skin – Non-Finite Clause

c)     Bingo thought of Rex – Main Clause

d)    of his long hair and of his jagged looks – Prepositional Phrases

e)     until she felt a sharper wetness – Subordinate Clause

f)     on her forehead – Prepositional Phrase / Adverbial

g)    then she lost her vision – Subordinate Clause

h)     as the blood from the wound streamed into her eyes – Subordinate Clause

In this extremely complex sentence, the main subject – Bingo – is at the centre of many different actions and states. However, it is her running which is foregrounded, as the non-finite clause “Running through the tall grass” is placed at the start of the sentence. Bingo’s loss of vision is also pushed towards the top of the reader’s awareness as it is placed at the end of this sentence and so the author is employing end focus to ensure that the reader is left with this particular image. Rex – the main clause’s object, despite having two prepositional phrases appended to it – is lost in the centre of this sentence and might even fail to register on the reader’s attention.

 

 

The Sunday Times – November 30, 2008… extract…

Pity the poor (other) woman

The mistress is a reviled figure, as Gordon Ramsay’s bit on the side is finding out. Rachel Johnson, proud winner of the Bad Sex award, says let’s not rush to judgment

The nation’s richest chef, Gordon Ramsay, faces a hot and sticky Christmas this year. Everyone seems to agree that he has been a gold-plated Michelin-starred plonker to have been caught in flagrante with a hard-faced Welsh bird in leopardskin lingerie who describes herself as a professional mistress and is currently hawking an unusually explicit how-to guide called Having an Affair? A Handbook for the Other Woman.

Everyone agrees that it was unfortunate – given the sex claims that are levelled at him in connection with this Sarah J Symonds – for him to have waxed just a little too lyrical about his full, indeed very full, life with his wife, Tana, in life-style features every time he has a book to promote or a restaurant to open, which is all the time. So everyone naturally feels the pain of Tana, the mother of his four children, who has been handed the difficult role of Dignified Wife/Good Fairy in this lurid Yuletide pantomime.

And I do too. Feel for Tana, I mean. It must be bad enough finding out your husband’s been unfaithful, but to have the world gorging on fare from a classic redtop menu of headlines such as “A slapper-up meal” and “Cheat ’n’ two veg” is a made-for-TV Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare if ever there was one. And all thanks to a woman who has repaid your husband’s furtive attentions by, um, putting “a world-famous TV chef” into a guidebook about adultery. For sure, if I were Tana – a bestselling cookery writer herself, remember – I’d be creating a new, special dish of lapin bouillifor Gordon right now, instead of one of her famous Sunday roast lunches.

On Tuesday I was handed a huge plaster foot by the actor Dominic West, star of The Wire, at a thronged burlesque champagne ceremony underwritten by the lyricist Sir Tim Rice at the In and Out Club in St James’s Square. I was also embraced very warmly indeed by Nancy Dell’Olio, the one-time girlfriend (note: not mistress) of Sven-Göran Eriksson. This probably sounds quite exciting and jolly until I explain that the accolade means I was considered to have written the worst sex scene of the year for a passage in my satirical novel Shire Hell.

Clause analysis is always a feature of a full mark answer (either in the Production’s Commentary or in the Investigation)

What is clause analysis?

Example 1

Let’s take this sentence from the above article’s strap line:

aRachel Johnson, bproud winner of the Bad Sex award, csays let’s not rush to judgment.

  • aRachel Johnson,csays let’s not rush to judgment =

 

…is a complex sentence, the main clause being Rachel Johnson says…, as in Rachel Johnson,says yes.

…leaving let’s not rush to judgment as the subordinate clause.

  • bproud winner of the Bad Sex award = this part of the sentence has no verb, making it a phrase rather than a clause. This part of the above sentence is embedded within it – making it an embedded phrase or a parenthetic phrase. Also, as the phrase works as a noun in the sentence it is a noun phrase.

 

  • The first question is: why has the auhtor added this non-essentuial part of the sentence?

 

  • The second question is: why has the author put it in the middle of the sentence?

 

  • What is the difference between the original sentence and the other two possible structures?

 

  1. Let’s not rush to judgment, says Rachel Johnson, proud winner of the Bad Sex award.

 

  1. Proud winner of the Bad Sex award, Rachel Johnson says let’s not rush to judgment.

 

Fronting or Front Focus or Front Loading – is where a phrase or clause is placed at the start of the sentence whre it gets most of the reader’s attention.

End Focus – is where an author tags on a phrase or a clause at the end of a sentence where it will still attract more attention than if it is jammed in somewhere in the middle of the sentence. End focusing isn’t as strong as front focusing – phrases or clauses stand out more at the start of the sentence than at the end.

For every text you analyse you need to deconstruct at least one sentence in this manner and comment on the sentence structure.

Example 2

aEveryone seems to agree bthat he has been a gold-plated Michelin-starred plonker cto have been caught in flagrante dwith a hard-faced Welsh bird ein leopardskin lingerie fwho describes herself gas a professional mistress hand is currently hawking an unusually explicit how-to guide icalled Having an Affair? A Handbook for the Other Woman.

…a fairly complicated sentence – how does it work?

aEveryone seems to agree bthat he has been a gold-plated Michelin-starred plonker. – this is the essential base of the sentence. The rest is just tagged on at the end.

 

cto have been caught in flagrante – a subordinate clause

dwith a hard-faced Welsh bird – a prepositional phrase

ein leopardskin lingerie – a prepositional phrase

fwho describes herself gas a professional mistress – a subirdinate clause (more specifically – a relative clause… one which starts with who, where, when, that), containing a prepositional phrase.

hand is currently hawking an unusually explicit how-to guide icalled Having an Affair? A Handbook for the Other Woman – a coordinate clause

Once a sentence has been broken down into its components, it’s left to you to comment

a) on the phrases and subirdinate clauses added in &

b) on where they have been added in, either up front, tucked away inside, or tagged on at the end.

Example 3

 

Yes of course her story – as recounted in the News of the World with plenty of precise detail about sex shops, sex drugs, timings of couplings and so forth – is plain sleazy, even for the most voyeuristic readers.

Example 4

The nation’s richest chef, Gordon Ramsay, faces a hot and sticky Christmas this year.

Example 5

On Tuesday I was handed a huge plaster foot by the actor Dominic West, star of The Wire, at a thronged burlesque champagne ceremony underwritten by the lyricist Sir Tim Rice at the In and Out Club in St James’s Square.

Example 6

This probably sounds quite exciting and jolly until I explain that the accolade means I was considered to have written the worst sex scene of the year for a passage in my satirical novel Shire Hell.

 

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