Re: Tina the Techwriter Reopens the Great Debate

Subject: Re: Tina the Techwriter Reopens the Great Debate
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 13:59:38 -0700

> -----Original Message from "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>-----
> "Does everyone else think in sentence fragments riddled with dangling
> modifiers, split
> infinitives, and phonetic spelling? The Tina in me shudders at that thought!"

I suppose it's natural for everyone to want to find an area in which they are
expert. However, prescriptive grammar is such an arbitrary collection of rules
that the only body of expertise that seems more useless is heraldry. Often, it
goes against the structure and tradition of the language itself. For example,
the rule against double negative runs counter to the tendency of Germanic
language like English to add negatives for emphasis; languages are not a form
of mathematics, so why should two negatives make a positive?

These days, I try to worry less about proper grammar than effective
communication. Dangling modifiers don't work because they obscure the sense, so
I edit them. However, sentence fragments are effective for emphasis, so long as
they aren't overused. Split infinitives only concern me if they are
exceptionally long; English isn't Latin, where the infinitive can't be split.
As for phonetic spelling, the only reason I worry about it is that other people
judge it unfavorably. Considering modern education, we all tend to grow up with
a grammar neurosis, but I try not to let it distract me from making sure that I
have something to say and that I say it as well as I can.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604-421.7177


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Re: Tina the Techwriter Reopens the Great Debate: From: David Neeley

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