Re: Display or appear (Was: Can "either" be used ... )

Subject: Re: Display or appear (Was: Can "either" be used ... )
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 10:01:10 -0700

Steven Brown wrote:

That fact, however, does not relieve us of
our responsibility to protect the English language.

When faced with a choice like this, and assuming
readers will understand either choice, we are
obligated to use the grammatically correct choice.


These comments beg a lot of questions:

-why are we responsible? English is spoken and used by more people than writers. The handful of writers who are famous may be able to influence the course of the language, but I seriously doubt that a manual that I write will have much more influence than a conversation on a bus.

-what are we protecting the English language from? So far as I can see, from natural change that tends to work itself out without our help. Nor is this the only approach writers can have. Thomas Hardy, for example, complained in his old age that when he looked up word usages, many of the examples cited were from his early works. Obviously, he didn't feel any need to regard English as a finished product.

-why are we obliged? I am obligated to my employer or publisher to write something that they find acceptable, and I am obligated to my self-respect to write as well as I can under the constraints I work under. I don't recognize any other obligation. I certainly don't feel any obligation to a set of imposed standards that are often arbitrary and unsuitable, and that reflect a set of principles that are now over two centuries out of date.



--
Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"I work for the pleasure of stopping,
I stop for the pleasure of beer."
-The Mollys, "The Lang Town"



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RE: Display or appear (Was: Can "either" be used ... ): From: Steven Brown

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