RE: Are we WRITERS????

Subject: RE: Are we WRITERS????
From: Barry Baldwin <barry -dot- baldwin -at- sanchez -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 16:55:20 -0500

> Tim Altom wrote:
> 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.

Right, right. This is prescriptive (write it according to specific rules)
versus proscriptive (write it as people actually speak) divide. Prescriptive
grammar came out of the victorian era and is based as much on Latin and the
increasing popularity of algebra as anything else, and in fact changed the
way people used English dramatically (at least for the educated classes).
This movement was aimed primarily at clearly defining socio-economic
stratifications so that the educated could be clearly identified. It was not
long before this that multiple negatives emphasized the negative (I love
Shakespeare's line "thou hast not heard not a single word nor understood
none neither").

Of course, we would never not take none such risks with no ambiguous, nor
lofty, nor sketchy verbiage in our technical writing (I wouldn't use
'prioritize' either, but for different reasons) but I have a character in my
fiction who talks like that all the time. Each has its place. I play by the
rules at work and break 'em all when I go home :^)

Regards all 'round,

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