RE: Whaddaya know? (long)

Subject: RE: Whaddaya know? (long)
From: jgarison -at- ide -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 14:44:26 -0400

Hmmm ...

I am in the middle of reading Kerouac's On The Road (don't ask me why it
took me so long to get around to finally reading it ....) and I wonder what
his familiarity with, and acceptance of, grammar was? Part of the beauty of
language - especially English - is its expressiveness. Rules are there to be
broken IF they help you make you point better, or communicate you ideas or
feelings more completely and accurately.

I am not advocating that we write technical documents a la James Joyce or
Walt Whitman, but I am advocating that we do whatever it takes to
communicate clearly, even if that may mean occasionally violating a grammar
rule if that it what it takes. I think prepositions are great things to end
sentences with, IF that is the best way to get my point across.

And, if I ever had to take Mary's - or anyone else's - grammar test, I
would always look for a different way to make my point rather than present
an arcane (to me) and bizarre (to the reader) grammatical construction. In
technical communication, clarity and conciseness are important, and I would
argue simplicity as well. Simple grammar is the best. Why use the future
pluperfect conjunctive if you can get your point across in a simple
declaratory way?

John - who even Dick Margulis says can write!

-----Original Message-----
From: MMdeaton [mailto:mmdeaton -at- mmdeaton -dot- com]
Subject: Re: Whaddaya know? (long)

Do I believe what I am reading? Technical communicators are discussing
whether or not we need to be able to explain the grammatical or style
"rules" or guidelines behind our writing? Do those of you who say we do not
also argue that you cannot define what "art" is, but you know it when you
see it?

Without a solid grounding in the English language, assuming it is English
you are writing in, and the ability to articulate its grammar, conventions,
style, and other elements, then we should be accused of "poisoning" the


When I was a hiring manager, I expected candidates for editing or writing
jobs to be able to explain to me, in an interview, what their philosophical
position on grammar and usage was, what references they used to determine an
appropriate use, and to take a test to prove they could practice what they


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