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

Subject: Re: Display or appear (Was: Can "either" be used ... )
From: Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- att -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 16:27:40 -0400

Bruce Byfield wrote:
> 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:

"Beg the question" does *not* mean "causes questions" or "brings up
questions". This is not the first time I've seen it misused on this list,
but it is the first time I am commenting. I hope you will all forgive me.

> -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.

For me, language that is distracting is invariably the kind that you are

> -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.

We should be protecting it from unwarranted change in meaning, such as the
use of "beg the question" to mean something different than its standard
meaning. For example, people who read your post (but not my comment), may
conclude that your usage of "beg the question" is correct, when of course
it is incorrect. You have then "taught" them to be incorrect. What possible
good can come from that?

> -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 two centuries out of date.

One usually has to be a master of one's trade before one can render the
judgment that traditional values in that trade are "unsuitable". Precision
and accuracy is never outmoded. Nor is adherence to grammatical rules that
have been constructed by one's betters.


Bonnie Granat

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

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