Re: Something more to put after the full stop.

Subject: Re: Something more to put after the full stop.
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 08:37:25 -0700 (PDT)

Bruce Byfield wrote:
As a result, some English-speakers grow up with a tremendous sense of uncertainty about grammar. Others apply and enforce the over-simplifications rigidly.

That's the bit that bugs me. I mean, I aggree it makes sense to teach a person the majority dialect (I use majority in the sociological sense, the group with the political, economic and social power. It should be noted that sometimes the majority dialect is spoken by the fewest number of people in an area.) Once that's learned, the learner can take it upon themselves to speak the diaclect that surrounds them. I also understand/realize/agree that we need to maintain a standard if we want a language to remain consistant across geographical bounds, because it doesn't take much for regional dialect differences to result in a new language. It's the insistance that there is a "one true XXXXX language" that I disagree with. It's not a helpful attitude and it _does_ contribute to writing anxiety. I guess my point is that you can insist that we should speak a certain way, but just acknowledge that such insistence is based on arbitrary preferences and not some innate goodness/rightness. ;-)

As far as tech-writing goes (just so I don't get booted, hehe), what's the practical impact of this?

Well, IMHO, it's already been stated. Do what you have to do to communicate to the widest audience in a mode your audience is used to. Don't worry about breaking prescriptive grammar rules unless they are part of your company's doc guidelines. _DO_ worry about breaking your __intuitive__ sense of grammar. If you write a sentence and cringe because it doesn't sound right, your should rewrite it. In some cases, your intuitive sense of what's right and wrong will coincide with the prescriptive grammar (ex: SOV sentence structure in English isn't right). In other cases it won't. I'm okay with that. :-)

Sean Hower - tech writer

"Whatever you do, do NOT let your editorial decisions be made by the squiggly spell-checking lines in Word!" ~Keith Cronin, Techwr-l irritant ;-)

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