RE: Things not to put after a full stop.

Subject: RE: Things not to put after a full stop.
From: Marguerite Krupp <mkrupp -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 13:03:13 -0400


OK, I have to jump in because some posters have stated as "rules" things
that simply are not so. [Credentials: I'm an adjunct English professor as
well as a tech writer, etc.]

First:

"Grammar" consists of a set of principles or rules.
"Usage" is the application of those rules.
Rhetoric," according to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is:
"1 : the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a) the study of
principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times
b) the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or
persuasion
2 a) skill in the effective use of speech b) a type or mode of language or
speech."

I think that we as tech writers and editors are primarily concerned with
rhetoric, not grammar.

Guru said:
<snip>
> Every writer knows that definite article "The" cannot
> be followed by a noun.</snip>

NO SUCH RULE EXISTS!
Why on earth would you have an article, either definite ("the") or
indefinite ("a" or "an") if it were not followed by a noun? Thus, "the
book," "the United States," "a figment."

And Harald added:
<snip>
As far as I remember from my English lessons (English is not my native
language), preposition and conjunctions should be avoided in written
language. But as you see, I am violating this rule with only few
sentences. So for words like as and but I do not agree.
</snip>

Again, NO SUCH RULE EXISTS!
Prepositions and conjunctions are perfectly fine in both written and spoken
English.

*BUT*

Their use can lead to longer, more convoluted sentences that are hard for
people to follow and worse for people to translate. The prepositions in any
language can cause trouble! So as communicators, we may often try to avoid
complex sentence structures, and one way to do that is to avoid compound
sentences (two independent clauses joined by a conjunction) and
prepositional phrases. The same holds for periodic sentences (for example,
those starting with an adverbial clause).

The only general rule that I do try to follow rigorously is (no surprise!)
to make the diction and sentence structure I use suitable for the needs of
my audience. Somehow, I don't feel that I need to violate any rules or
grammar or principles of usage or rhetoric to accomplish this, and I'm
highly suspicious of anyone who says that it's necessary to break
grammatical rules to communicate effectively.

Marguerite


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