Re: Dangling Modifiers

Subject: Re: Dangling Modifiers
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 19:53:01 -0800

Firetail Documentation wrote:

Of course, to accept that a recommendation for English usage is invalid
simply because it's of foreign origin would also be to invalidate over half
the words in the language...
Not really. Borrowing a word and borrowing a grammatical structure are not the same thing. English borrows words freely. However, it is much more resistant to borrowing grammatical structures, and has tended to become more so over time. For example, the most common order for subjects, objects and verbs in Old English became the standard in Middle and Modern English as the language became more weakly declined. Nor is there much tendency to borrow structure from French, Norse, or any of the other languages that impinged upon English.

Does it matter from where the grammar (or the
word) comes, if it's commonly accepted?
In the case of grammar, it matters a great deal. Latin's structure, for example, is very different from English and the Germanic languages that English derives from. For this reason, trying to impose Latin structures on English is a Procrustean exercise, ignoring common English useages, and stretching them in improbable ways to conform to the artificial standard of Latin. The result is extremely artificial.

This is how people have come to
expect a formal English sentence to be written, regardless of the
'ethnicity' of the concept.

Not really. The idea that a sentence shouldn't end in a preposition is probably the weakest of the arbitrary prescriptivist rules that were inflicted on English during the Eighteen Century. It has been ignored by the majority of writers and speakers whenever it was inconvenient - which is hardly surprising. The rule has very little to do with clarity, and serves no useful purpose.

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

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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Dangling Modifiers: From: Dana Worley
Re: Dangling Modifiers: From: Michael Feimster
Re: Dangling Modifiers: From: Firetail Documentation

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