TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: It's what It's From:David Neeley <dbneeley -at- oddpost -dot- com> To:lyndsey -dot- amott -at- docsymmetry -dot- com Date:Mon, 16 Feb 2004 13:21:51 -0800 (PST)
-----Original Message from lyndsey -dot- amott -at- docsymmetry -dot- com-----
"Well, I am sure that our writing is, like Mary Poppins, "practically perfect
in every way" when we are producing something professional."
Actually, no, in my experience I see an increasing and distressing trend in writing of all kinds for sloppy habits of grammar to intrude. Misuse of apostrophes is so common today that they are strewn throughout high-dollar advertising as well as in technical documentation of all varieties. I would assert that misusing "it's" rather than "its" as a simple example is *not* usually a matter of "taking time" but rather an insufficient understanding of the grammar involved.
"Writing well is difficult and takes time. No one wants to spend hours on an email."
Nor do I. Generally, my emails are composed at 80 or more w.p.m. Not that I am any sort of paragon of grammar and style, but I do try to write clearly and effectively.
> As for what is "incorrect" language, I find that those uses which are ambiguous and stand in the way of clarity should qualify as incorrect sans the "quotation marks."
"The trouble with criticizing the writing of others is that you set yourself up for criticism. For example, I might criticize the fact that you have used "which" instead of "that" in the sentence above. "
Obviously, this is a distinction I don't find useful in this case. What about the use of "which" in my original construction lacked clarity?
Personally, I am not at all such a pedant that I expect anyone to blindly follow "rules" that have little distinction. My standard is to try to adhere to those rules having some relation to clarity and lack of ambiguity. For the rest, I don't particularly care.
Finally, I usually do not comment on the grammar of others. It was only because this was a part of an existing thread that I commented at all.