Is this sentence unjustiably "wordy"?

0

The concept of punctuated equilibrium (PE) applied to matters of governance, assumes that governmental policy progresses incrementally (i.e. annual increases in social security contributions as provided for in PL 98-21) or in response to drastic changes (i.e. the voting controversy stemming from the 2000 Bush v Gore presidential election and the subsequent adoption of PL 107-252 (the Help America Vote Act)).

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The concept of punctuated equilibrium (PE) applied to matters of governance, assumes that governmental policy progresses incrementally (i.e. annual increases in social security contributions as provided for in PL 98-21) or in response to drastic changes (i.e. the voting controversy stemming from the 2000 Bush v Gore presidential election and the subsequent adoption of PL 107-252 (the Help America Vote Act)).
asked Sep 03 '12 at 11:19 Charles Sampson New member

1 answer


2

Yes, it is too wordy by any standard.

 

First, it is too long for easy comprehension -- even by college-educated readers. At 61 words, it is nearly three times the length of the typical sentence. On her blog, Grammar Girl addresses the issue thus: "Your readers are following a path you’ve laid out for them. Don’t try to be a turbo guide and make them traipse along too many side streets. They’ll become exhausted and collapse."

 

Here are some facts to consider about sentence length.

  • Many college-level writing courses encourage an average sentence length of about 23 words. This is because complex and compound sentences are naturally longer, and the frequent use of such sentences has been traditionally encouraged as evidence of a student's critical thinking ability. However, research indicates that understanding and retention among graduate students is highest when sentences average about 17 words. With longer sentences, readers have a hard time keeping track of what is modifying what.
  • On the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level reading comprehension scale, your sentence scores an unbelievable 33.3. Although not perfect, the Flesch-Kincaid scale is widely used to indicate how many years of education the reader must have to understand what is written. A high school senior is a 12. Well-written college-level academic papers and articles typically score between 10 and 14.
  • On the Flesch Reading Ease Scale (which runs from 0 to 120), your sentence scores a 0. On this scale, anything less than 50 is considered difficult. Wikipedia provides these sample scores: Reader's Digest magazine has a readability index of about 65, Time magazine scores about 52, an average 6th grade student's (an 11-year-old) written assignment has a readability test of 60–70 (and a reading grade level of 6–7), and the Harvard Law Review has a general readability score in the low 30s.

Second your sentence uses multiple parenthetical phrases, including a parenthetical embedded inside another. While parentheticals are useful, more than one in a sentence adds to the reading difficulty. Embedding them makes matters even more difficult. The parentheticals are clues that suggest where you might break your sentence into separate sentences.

 

Please consider revising your sentence. It is excessively long.

 

I hope this helps.

link comment answered Sep 03 '12 at 15:04 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

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