Re: Are we WRITERS????

Subject: Re: Are we WRITERS????
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "Barry Baldwin" <barry -dot- baldwin -at- sanchez -dot- com>, "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 09:55:55 -0500

It depends on whether you're in the "logical" camp or the "organic" camp.

If you're a logical grammarian, you critique words or usage that seem
illogical. For example, "irregardless" seems to say "as the opposite of
regardless". That means when you write "Irregardless of that fact", you're
actually saying "Regardless of the 'regardless' of that fact..." In other
words, "regardless" is "without regard", while "irregardless" is "without
the lack of regard". The same principle applies to "Don't got none". Double
negative there, resulting in a positive, and the opposite of what the
speaker intended. However, an "organic" grammarian would argue that if you
understood the point, it's good enough. Logical grammarians scrutinize
language; organic grammarians follow it, like sweeper-uppers after a parade.

"Prioritize" is, in my view, is a useful but inelegant word. It has a
gritty, hasty, business-speak feel to it, unlike "set priorities". It's not
really correct or incorrect, any more than any other structure in English
is...the language police were disbanded in the last round of budget cuts,
you know. You could argue that "prioritize" is not even necessary, because
we have a perfectly good "set priorities" already on the shelf. G. Gordon
Liddy has caniptions over "crispy", which, he points out, is unnecessary,
because the word "crisp" is perfectly useable with one fewer letter. And
while we're talking about this, logical grammarians prefer that we use
"fewer" for things you can count, rather than the less precise "less". There
are people who throw things when they see "since" used in the sense of
"because", or "usage" for "use".

I think there is something to the argument that nowadays we spin out new
words or phrases not because they're needed, but because they sound cool and
make us seem hipper. "Prioritize" is an example. Only cool, plugged-in
business types use that word. It's ubiquitous: "24/7" for "all the time";
"burn rate" for "how godawful much we're spending"; "whaazzzuuuppp" for

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
"Better communication is a service to mankind."
Check our Web site for the upcoming Clustar class info

> I can see why "irregardless" is technically incorrect, but I'm curious why
> "prioritize" is technically incorrect. Is because the original noun has
> verbofied by adding the "ize" suffix? That's the only thing I can think
> We probably have e e cummings, A A Milne, and Salman Rushdie to blame for
> that. Personally, I have always been much more of the proscriptive
> school than the prescriptive language school. It lets me believe, at least
> for a little while, that language is infinite. And what a cool feeling to
> a craftsperson of the infinite. I don't mean to slam or blast anyone. This
> is only my opinion, and no one is obliged to agree with me.
> Regards all 'round,
> Barry

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