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Fronted adverbials


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Fronted adverbials

24 Jan 2021 8:00AM   Views : 396 Unique : 205


I hadn’t heard about these until yesterday – apparently, they’re all the rage (I use the term advisedly) on Facebook, and probably also on mumsnet. They are, apparently, part of the national curriculum for primary school children…

They owe much to the current obsession on the part of the Tory party with knowing the names for things – probably originating during the time that Michael Gove (best pronounced ‘Gooove’) was Secretary of State, and decreed that To Kill a Mockingbird should not have a prominent place in the curriculum because it was written by an American, about America. It’s an important book, with a lot to say about society in general, and perhaps a certain part of American culture: and it provides children who read it with a hero, in Atticus Finch.

Recently, Michael Rosen (a very well-known children’s author) wrote about the subject, and directed well-deserved brickbats at both Gooove and his successor, the hapless Gavin Williamson. He and Hilary Mantel had talked for an hour about writing, about ‘the sound and rhythm of sentences, the struggle to find the right word, the shaping of a paragraph so that it sets a scene before introducing a character, and much more. We talked for nearly an hour and we did not mention a fronted adverbial once.’

As an Englishman with teachers in the family, I have access to an informed view of what matters and what doesn’t in teaching the literature that I love: I know people who could be much more helpful than the Secretary of State – but I won’t go on further: you’ll either agree with me, understand that my view is different from yours, or feel free to tell me that I should not express my views…
By now, you may wonder what this has to do with photography, and so I’m going to tell you.


As with literature, you don’t need to know all the labels in order to do something, or indeed to be incredibly good at it. You need to understand the technical basics like exposure and focus, but you don’t need to know what high key is to produce a fine high key picture. You don’t need to be familiar with the term ‘Dutch tilt’ to use one: nor do you need to know precisely what a ‘concealed nude’ is to pose for or photograph one.

Yes, of course, knowing the terms allows you to discuss images using shorthand, and that can both save time and be a bonding experience: you’re a member of a club, a gang, with your own dialect and rituals. And being part of a social group can be good for your creative work – but it can also hold you back. You can get lost in the fun of playing with words and excluding those who don’t know the lingo – maybe you can tell the photographic equivalent of a three-times Booker Award-winning novelist that she doesn’t know how to write because she doesn’t use enough fronted adverbials in her work. Does not display a full range of styles and techniques.

Oh, yes – what is a fronted adverbial? According to the BBC (that terrible, left-wing relic of broadcasting that is put to shame by the commercial sector, according to the always-accurate right-wing press):
'Earlier today' is the adverbial.
"Earlier today, I discovered fronted adverbials."

So now you know.



dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1810 England
24 Jan 2021 8:02AM
Top and bottom, Sphinx shedding the years to go back to school: in between, Camilla Rose being high key.

And if you want to see how a proper writer writes, HERE is Michael Rosen's article.
24 Jan 2021 8:18AM
Perhaps the photographic equivalent is that your image must have front to back sharpness ( if it's a landscape ), a full range of tones ( if it's b&w ), good shadow detail ( whatever it is ) and at all times obey the Rule Of Thirds ( ditto ). All of which is of course, to any genuinely creative photographer, complete bollocks.
kaybee Plus
16 7.6k 26 Scotland
24 Jan 2021 8:25AM
I think you will find they have come across from the USA - along with the idea that BODEM has to be used in every situation.
Certainly when I was at school they were just adverbs
jacomes Plus
6 27 34 Portugal
24 Jan 2021 10:27AM
Fronted adverbial is itself an illiterate name invented by pseudo academics so a box can ticked on a sats test, it's all blks
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1810 England
24 Jan 2021 12:38PM
The name seems a bit wrong to me: I can understand that it's shorthand for 'fronted adverbial clause' - which contraction is as unforgivable in my grammatical book as 'hypotheticals'. Adverbial is an adjective, not a noun. (That is something that I did learn at school, and it seems important.)
saltireblue Plus
10 11.6k 71 Norway
24 Jan 2021 3:43PM
...and there was me thinking your title was something to do with female breasts...Wink Some new slang description for them...
dudler Plus
17 1.5k 1810 England
24 Jan 2021 4:07PM
I shall try this out with the next well-endowed woman I meet. Who may well be Janet...
24 Jan 2021 4:12PM
Good to see you popping in to widen the discussion in your usual inimitable style, Malc.
24 Jan 2021 4:55PM
My head hurts.

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