Hypotaxis versus Parataxis

Hypotaxis versus Parataxis – These are the two poles of sentence writing. Most writers are more or less hypotactic (unequal and thus complex or “elegant”) or paratactic (equal and thus simple or “direct”). Equality here refers to the parts of the sentences we write.

If I write long, flowing sentences of various lengths, with various types of conjunctions, subordinate clauses, asides (parentheticals and appositives), I am a more hypotactic writer. If I write short, equal sentences, I am a more paratactic writer.

Technically, the definition turns on a preference for the use of either subordinating conjunctions (= hypotaxis, giving hierarchy) or coordinating conjunctions (= parataxis, giving no hierarchy, equalizing).

Hypotaxis means beneath arrangement (hypo = “beneath,” taxis = “arrangement”) in Greek.

Parataxis means beside arrangement (para = “beside,” taxis = “arrangement”) in Greek.

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