On an overall level, I want to start by saying that this piece is fantastic! It flows extremely well from sentence to sentence and from word to word. The eyes never glaze over as the argument comes together. Moreover, I wanted to mention that (as a prior resident for 16 years in Orange County, CA), I really connected with this piece.
On to style: The first line really captured me from the first three words. It is really well constructed. “I am guilty,” it begins. While it doesn’t end there, that very first line is gripping. It pulls the reader in immediately. Already, as the reader, I want to know more about what is going on. I want more context; more understanding. Basically, I need to read on. The sentence finishes by saying “of wasting water,” so that all together the sentence is “I am guilty of wasting water.” This sentence works precisely because of points that Pinker makes in Chapter 4. For instance, in considering tree structure, “I am guilty” is one of the simplest sentences that a person can utter. It is organized into two over-arching phrases, one being a noun phrase and the other a verb phrase. Subordinate to the verb phrase, is a simple adjectival phrase (“guilty”). In beginning with this simple structure, the sentence creates a great impact on the reader. The sentence continues, of course, with a prepositional phrase that is directly connected to the adjectival phrase. Since the prepositional phrase is not only directly-hierarchically connected in the tree, but directly connected on a linear level as well, the sentence is easy to process. Furthermore, its simple in its sentence structure making the interesting and well-chosen diction, like “guilty,” and “wasting,” stand out. This, in turn, serves the purpose of the piece because the ultimate meaning of the sentence is like a microcosm of the entire piece.
BWEST does makes so many well-chosen stylistic moves as exampled in the paragraph above. Another example comes in the third sentence of the first paragraph. The coordinating structure is tricky and yet the writer does an exemplary job of making it easy to process and understand. I could go into further detail and I could continue to mark all the amazing things happening in this piece, but I also wanted to touch on some small instances where thinking about trees might make this piece even better.
In the second sentence of the first paragraph, this sentence is slightly confusing: “After long, stressful days I have been known to take hot thirty minute showers after everyone in my house was asleep where I dozed off multiple times.” While the confusing final phrase, “where I dozed off…” does not detract from the fluidity of the piece, it did catch my attention my second time through reading it. I realized I was not sure whether the writer’s parents were dozing off or the writer, themselves. This most likely occurs, according to Pinker, because the phrase is disconnected linearly from it head word or phrase. This next sentence is a small example and the only other slightly confusing structure I found in the piece: “I, yes, left the faucet on when brushing my teeth.” While this is a small, nitpicky point, “yes” would probably be better before “I,” because then the subject is closer to the verb, connecting more closely-related elements to one another.
Again, overall, I really enjoyed this piece. It is extremely well written and well-executed in style.