Yo-ho! A jolly new Olde English axiom-axing…

Subject: Yo-ho! A jolly new Olde English axiom-axing…
From: "Tim Mantyla" <tim -dot- mantyla -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2008 15:09:31 -0400

…a truism-trashing! A statute-stomping, a canon-crunching, a bill-bashing, a
platitude-pounding, a pomposity-popping of a plosive push for…uh, for
whatever it's a push for!

"Display, Displays, or Appears?"

"Article in front of hardware or software?"

Avast, ye lingo-lubbin' linguistiquarians! The answers, my friend, are quite
literally blowin' in the wind…changing as quickly as the tides rise and

I'm talking about Bruce Byfield's "Tech Writers, Grammar, and the
Prescriptive Attitude" on Techwhirl's articles page:

I love Bruce's gang-spanking of the pedantic practices of pompous
prescriptivists! Okay, so he's not a gang--but by brandishing many bare and
surprising facts, he exerts the same force.

His point: that writing should simply communicate, and not ever be squeezed
into or onto ill-fitting, hoary, biased and rotting (yes, all four
adjectives do apply) formats.

Byfield's article is almost an expose—and it should top the list of required
reading for every educator and every student writer who's about to be
bamboozled by the bulltwiddle blustering out of their bombastic,
pedestal-posing so-called betters.

The piece reveals that many prescriptions for grammar and usage, the canons
of form that we learned in school, distract and sometimes even bind or gag
writers. They plaster the arrows of good communication with silt. They are,
in fact, a twisted hybrid of good intentions and vanity: part misplaced
desire for scientific consistency and part thoughtless or merely selfish
prejudice on the part of prescriptivists' idols such as Ben Jonson, John
Dryden and Robert Lowth.

So seemingly small, yet so strong. This piece could become Byfield's "shot
heard 'round the world." How apropos that it's a mere flutter of a sheaf of
paper, a tangy turn of the tongue, a few bits of a byte off the World Wide

Indeed, the pen--and the PC--are mightier than the sword. Methinks
linguistic prescriptivists and other dastardly dictionary-bound doctors of
language ought to run for their Rx's.

Tim Mantyla

Communication - Creativity - Innovation

Post your comments and innovations at http://timmantyla.wordpress.com

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