Re: Favorite TW Book?

Subject: Re: Favorite TW Book?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 13:36:46 -0800

Moulton, Debbie wrote:

I agree with Keith. Mostly because I fall into the ranks of those who came into tech writing from another line of work. While my background consists of years of documentation and training, I almost always had an office professional who I depended on to worry about the grammar/punctuation while I focused on the content and delivery. I know...shame on me... but time and circumstances limited my area of focus. There is a lot of truth to the old adage "If you don't use it, you may lose it"!

Having grammar books at hand may be comforting, but I doubt that there's many on this list who actually need them.

You don't need to be able to parse a sentence to be able to use the language properly; the knowledge of how to use the language is absorbed instinctively by anyone who's fluent in a language. Anyone who can earn a living consistently as a technical writer has enough knowledge of the language not to need a grammar.

In fact, despite the widespread assumption that a detailed knowledge of grammar is useful, I know of no study that suggests that it makes anyone speak their native language more ably. True,boning up on grammar is useful when you're starting to learn another language, but, even then, it's only a first step - you have to use a language to be really fluent in it.

My years of teaching back these comments up. Only a small percentage of university students could actually absorb a rule of grammar when it was explained, then apply it in their work.

I find it odd that so many capable writers feel the need of grammar books to back them up. The fact that they do shows how strongly prescriptive grammar affects our thinking.

Makes you wonder how Willy Shakespeare and the boys managed without a grammar book to refer to.

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

"'To be, or not to be; that's the question,' said Eeyore. 'Some of us can, and some of us can't, and that's all there is to it. You know what I've been suffering, Piglet? Slings and arrows, that's what. And it's my birthday as well. I would have liked a balloon. But what do I get? Slings and arrows. Not to mention a sea of troubles. Did I mention a sea of troubles, Piglet?'"
- Les Barker, "Eeyore's Speech From 'Piglet'"

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RE: Favorite TW Book?: From: Moulton, Debbie

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