Need help with wordiness in sentence.

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How do I shorten or help to make the scentence flow better

See example:

According to H. J. Anslinger of the United States Commissioner of Narcotics states in the magazine Scientific American in the issue dating back to May of 1938, "Marihuana is a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine, and "marijuana the drug is adhering to its Old World traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization, and mental breakdown (Great Reefer Madness Propaganda Quotes:", 2012, p. Xx-Xx)."
asked Jan 16 '13 at 16:31 Tammy L. Ehman New member

4 answers


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You will have to consult the style/reference guide for your university or employer to verify whether or not the bibliographical format in brackets at the end of your text matches their requirements.  Also, I will accept the different spellings of marijuana as textually accurate -- which seems unlikely, because both spellings are attributed to the same speaker/writer, so please double-check. Otherwise, here are my suggested revisions, which obviate the need for the 2nd alternatively-spelled marijuana (even though it conforms to the conventional spelling), and the strange (at least for the 21st century) use of adhere in the continuous tense:

 

H. J. Anslinger, the United States Commissioner of Narcotics, stated/argued in the May 1938 issue of Scientific American that "[m]arihuana is a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine", further adding that it adheres to "its Old World traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization, and mental breakdown."

 

One more, rather duplicitous, suggestion - as a former university student myself, I both think that the "in the May 1938 issue of Scientific American" phrase is wordy, and that you would impress your professor more by deleting or modifying that phrase and instead footnothing or otherwise sourcing it, thereby adding it to your bibliography, assuming that you have full bibliographical details about the May 1938 issue of Scientific American as provided in Great Reefer Madness Propaganda Quotes, which appears to be a webpage, not a published book.  Check your style/usage guide, as mentioned above, for how to cite the source appropriately.  I am being a little sketchy in suggesting this, but I used to do it all the time when I was a university student - it fills out your bibliography, or works cited, or whatever your institution calls it, and that is always a good thing, methinks...

link comment edited Jan 17 '13 at 03:20 Shawn Mooney Expert
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I’ll go over a couple points that Shawn took care of in his suggested rewrite, but didn’t explain. 

 

Anslinger would either be: of the US Commission of Narcotics (an entity, if there was such a thing), or the US Commissioner of Narcotics (the title for a person).

 

When quoting someone from 75 years ago on a topic that has more recent (and more accurate) experts that could speak on the subject, I wouldn’t use “according to” to start the sentence.  It implies that this is coming from the a more recent and expert source.  Anslinger may have been the best expert 75 years ago, but a lot has changed since then.  Instead, I would do the same as Shawn did.  Say that he stated, or argued, or put forth this statement.   

link answered Jan 16 '13 at 18:41 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

Brilliant feedback, as usual, Patty! I changed "according to" to "stated" or "argued" without consciously realizing why. You have explained why very clearly and I had never thought about the semantic difference before!

Shawn MooneyJan 17 '13 at 03:51

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To clear up a couple of points that were raised:

'Marihuana' was a common spelling used at the time cited, and would likely be the one used in the magazine. It may be proper to use the 'h' spelling within the quotes, and the modern 'j' spelling in your text.

Anslinger's official title was Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. This bureau was under the U.S. Treasury Department.

link comment answered Jan 16 '13 at 19:21 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow
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Focus on making this section more concise: According to H. J. Anslinger of the United States Commissioner of Narcotics states in the magazine Scientific American in the issue dating back to May of 1938,

 

Clarify what is a quote and what is not. Not knowing the quote I do not know where the quotation marks should be, but it looks like two of them are in the wrong spots or are missing.

 

"Marihuana is a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine," and "marijuana the drug is adhering to its Old World traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization, and mental breakdown." (Great Reefer Madness Propaganda Quotes: 2012, p. Xx-Xx).

 

I added two quotation marks (encapsulating the two quotations) and deleted two others (the last two that are not part of what is being quoted). I also added a period (that may need to be an ellipsis depending on the quote itself) and deleted a comma from your citation.

 

Be consistent in the way you spell MARIJUANA... you have it once with an H and then with a J.

link comment answered Jan 16 '13 at 17:58 Tony Proano Expert

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