Whaddaya know? (long)

Subject: Whaddaya know? (long)
From: "MMdeaton" <mmdeaton -at- mmdeaton -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 14:52:04 -0700

But we are not producing literature as Ken Kesey was, we are writing
documentation. The rules are different.

For example, where did I suggest that well-written documentation uses arcane
or "bizzare" grammatical constructions? I am all in favor of ending
sentences with prepositions, adore the understood subject, and on occassion
have been known to applaud a compound, complex sentence as the best possible
way to present a piece of information. I also know when to use the passive
voice and when not to.

Being able to recognize and explain the future pluperfect conjunctive,
however, seems to be essential for someone claiming to be a professional
technical writer or editor. That does not mean you have to use it, for God's

I just do not get from your response to my post why you seem to assume that
because I want people to understand and be able to explain grammar and usage
rules and conventions that I am not in favor of concise, simple,
well-crafted writing?

Mary Deaton
(206) 323-0701
New used books added today: http://home.mindspring.com/~mmdeaton/default.htm

----- Original Message -----
From: <jgarison -at- ide -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2001 11:44 AM
Subject: RE: Whaddaya know? (long)
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
his familiarity with, and acceptance of, grammar was? Part of the beauty
language - especially English - is its expressiveness. Rules are there to
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
rule if that it what it takes. I think prepositions are great things to
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
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
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,
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
position on grammar and usage was, what references they used to determine
appropriate use, and to take a test to prove they could practice what they


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