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Old March 27 2012, 02:38 PM   #485
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Re: So What Are you Reading?: Generations

I don't find it a particularly long sentence. It has a simple and straightforward structure: Maybe A, but given B, then C. Just three parts, and it takes up under three lines in total. The only flaw I see in it is the reuse of "these" in the final phrase, which is a bit awkward-sounding, but not actually ungrammatical.

For comparison, here's the closing sentence of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which is often held up as a great example of concise and efficient public speaking:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
That's 82 words and a complicated structure with five segments. Yet aside from a few uses of punctuation that wouldn't get by a modern copyeditor, there's nothing wrong with it as a piece of writing. It's not an abuse of language to demand an attention span from your audience.
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