English major?

Subject: English major?
From: Edwin Dahlquist <Edwin -dot- Dahlquist -at- asu -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2003 08:06:05 -0700 (MST)

Andrew Plato wrote:
"People who have an English degree will say its great. People who don't will
justify why they don't need one."

There is a little more to it than that. Anyone who presumes to be a technical
writer should be able to look at an existing document and understand what, if
anything, is "wrong" with it. Even more importantly, he or she should be able
to articulate the specifics of the "wrongness."

That definitely does not require an English degree, and especially not an
English degree in literature; it does require a fundamental understanding of
the mechanics of language that is beyond the grasp of most university students
(and many writers), including those in technical writing majors.

My suggestion is that anyone a bit shaky in the English department consider
classes in grammar, especially generative grammar, and basic linguistics. Not
brain busters, but at least introductory (college or university)level classes.
They are guaranteed to give you a whole new perspective on language.

An added benefit is the ability to quickly parse and diagram a particular word
construct as a visual aid to explain why it is "wrong."




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