Re: MOS leaves me confused on this one.....

Subject: Re: MOS leaves me confused on this one.....
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:35:56 -0700

Barry Kieffer wrote:

> Pick a standard and be consistent through your book. It is better to be
> consistent than correct (in most cases).

Good advice. However, I wish people would throw out the idea of
correctness altogether.

Many people find it hard to accept, but grammar is just a snap shot
of a language in a particular time and place among a particular
class and gender. By the time it's published, it's usually obsolete.
On many points, there's a general consensus, such as what
constitutes a complete sentence. On many other points, an elite
group claims that its version of the language is the preferred one,
and sometimes it has the credibility or authority to enforce that
claim. However, on many points, no consensus exists. That is
especially true when a language is evolving rapidly, or when no
elite claim is enforced. For example, for years, the standards of
written English were the general standard. Now, however, spoken
English also has a very strong claim to being the standard.

Besides consistency, the only thing writers need to worry about is
clarity: if a usage is awkward or obscures meaning, they should
avoid it. You may have usages that you prefer to avoid, or language
that you want to avoid because it doesn't reflect your politics, but
these are other issues.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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