THE KING JAMES BIBLE AND ENGLISH STYLE. Stanley Fish divides sentences into two groups, which he calls the subordinating style and the additive style. The subordinating style orders its clauses in a hierarchy—of causality or time sequence or of importance. Robert Alter in the Wall Street Journal (May 5-6) argued that the King James Bible (400 years old this year) changed English prose by its use of parallel clauses linked by “and.” Alter says that: “This is not a natural way to write English prose, which provides many devices (‘after,’ ‘if,’ ‘whose,’ etc.) for creating subordinate clauses.” Alter argues that the use of parallel clauses in the English version resulted from the decision of the translators to follow closely the Hebrew text, which used sequences of parallel clauses linked by “and.” The enormous influence of of the King James Version made the additive style more common in English. (Alter cites Bellow and Hemingway as modern writers who make use of the style.) Alter thinks that one advantage of the additive style is that it forces the reader to think about the relationships between the clauses.

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