RE: Yo-ho! A jolly new Olde English axiom-axing

Subject: RE: 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: Thu, 19 Jun 2008 16:58:31 -0400

> From: "Gordon McLean" <gordon -dot- mclean -at- ciboodle -dot- com>

> I'm sure you have a point but it's badly communicated, I don't want to

> your prose I'm afraid.


> (I do hope you were trying to be ironic)

Sorry you feel that way!

Maybe I was having so much fun popping granfalloons that it wasn't clear
which camp's 'falloons were the target. (from Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle: "If
you want to know a granfalloon, just pop the skin of a toy balloon.")

The irony involved using Olde Englishe style to communicate not merely the
slaughter, but the annihilation of, some--and only some--of its sacred cows.

> .a truism-trashing! A statute-stomping, a canon-crunching, a bill-bashing,

> platitude-pounding, a pomposity-popping of a plosive push for.uh, for

> whatever it's a push for!

The title captures it all:

It's an axing (destruction) of axiom(s), rules, canons...

It's written partly in the convoluted olde English style of yore, the same
used by prescriptivists who pompously paraded their prose as The Only
English Way.

It's jolly--I had lots of fun writing it because I felt excited--much more
than glad!--to read the original that debunks and exposes the folly of such
antisensical rules, and does it so well.

> "Display, Displays, or Appears?"

> "Article in front of hardware or software?"

Referring to these threads as a comment (agreed, not explicit or
clear...just an oblique reference) on the beating, mashing and liquifaction
of the horse carcasses therein.

> Avast, ye lingo-lubbin' linguistiquarians! The answers, my friend, are

> literally blowin' in the wind.changing as quickly as the tides rise and

> fall.

A warning -- hear ye! hear ye! -- re: the changing nature of language. And
it heralds the main point--like King's Men bearing Hotte Newes:

> 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

> surprising facts, he exerts the same force.

> 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

> paper, a tangy turn of the tongue, a few bits of a byte off the World Wide

> Web.

Not ironic. I really _do_ think his is a great manifesto. The antiquarian
grammarians' layers of obsolete and arbitrarily applied English crust that
hang heavily on many a writer's efforts to be clear should be scraped into
the Great Circular File in the Sky!

> 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.

Bald truth, baldly stated, tickles the pompous so much that they wriggle
right off their pedestals.

> From: David Hailey

> Truer words were never spoken, Tim. Loved Bruce's article, and your

> joy-filled review started my day with a jump. Thanks for pointing

> the article out.


> From: "Donald H. White" <dwhite -at- jrtcllc -dot- com>

> <!~!


> com>


> "...writing should simply communicate, and not ever be squeezed into or

> ill-fitting, hoary, biased and rotting (yes, all four adjectives do apply)

> formats."


> glad social the to bias and I so learn am or historic ever we that

> submitting to succumbing should without simply is grammar historic

> communicate of. last at over Form Content! life technical my will so ever

> this livable more so Boy life writer a as editor much. Thanks.


> apply axiom axes your rhetorical them Sharpen the and to closest them

> pedantic!!

Now, really…Is this a sarcastic or ironic point in support of clarity, or

Sorry, your intent fell off my brain for the effort of translation. Was your
argument that to remove ill-fitting, hoary, biased and rotting formats
inadvertantly destroys all order, or leads to such anarchy?

Such fear! What's driving that?

Or if not, then...did my post come across so convoluted as to be unclear? or
as a call to hold up form over content? I don't see any such implication in
it, nor in Byfield's original article.

My post clearly (I thought) supported clarity at the expense of fatted,
sacred cows. I'll always "succumb" to good--often common--sense over
arbitrary, unnecessarily complex rules.

If we were debating forms of government, your post seems to prefer Pol Pot
to my Jefferson. Or slavery, because it's "legal," to my freedom, because
it's fair and upholds respect and human rights both self-evident and

Common sense, common usage:

People use language as a tool, and always strip it to the leanest bone to
suit local and individual purposes. That's an example of natural selection.
Common usage, and negotiations (explicit or not) between its users, drives
language evolution.

> last at over Form Content! Form _under_ content--to better support it. What _other_ post were
you reading?

Only those cows that so pad the meat of the language, to the point where
surgery is required to reach the bones, ought to be culled from the herd.

If a format twists usage in a way that requires intense effort to
understand, is it useful? That's exactly what I'm arguing against.

Yoda: "To be _clear_ young Skywalker, the goal is. Followed, a format should
only be, if sense it makes. ALL rules and conventions, to break, no need
there is when comes growth. The bathwater with the baby, no need exists, to
throw out."

Note that the format and rules change slightly in Yoda's speech.

Yoda on Yoda's speech: "Yet consistent rules, follow they do. For clarity
selfwise, it serves, rules to keep."

Let's speculate on language evolution with the word "maybe." It's easy to
surmise that this simple word could have arisen from a clunkier phrase like
"it may be that..." I much prefer the shorter version, likely a product of
evolution from complex to easy. What do you prefer?

A final post-post riposte...maybe Einstein's quote is apropos:

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ
from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even
incapable of forming such opinions."

--Albert Einstein

(Thanks, Wanda for that!)

Tim Mantyla

Communication - Creativity - Innovation
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