Showing posts from May, 2013

Tone: the slippery element

My mother, the wardeness of my mind, was extremely sensitive to tone. I could say the most innocent word--"yes"--in response to one of her directives and suddenly be in big trouble if she detected sarcasm in my tone. She commented on the tone of TV newscasters and commercials, the tone of supermarket cashiers and gas station attendants (I am old. When I was a kid, a man pumped your gas for you.), the tone of preachers and politicians, and the tone that I used with her, my dad and my brother.
So now I am extraordinarily sensitive to tone, in voice and in writing. The problems start when I apply my own definitions of tone to someone else's speaking or writing. It doesn't work, and this presents a problem for writers.

Example #1, written tone:
"Czech-Saxon Switzerland, a small sandstone island in the middle of Europe, was announced the national park on January 1st, 2000. Many touristic paths, marked and linking the unique nature localities with the historically v…