Re: Grammar

Subject: Re: Grammar
From: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 09:03:29 +1100

David Hailey wrote:
> I piled on Janice a bit harder than I would have liked. She asked me if I would point out any grammar errors she might have made. Rather than point to any specifics in her posting, I would rather point to the grammar mistakes we all make every day.

I think some of the confusion about your previous
message was caused by the fact that you are using
the word "grammar" to cover both grammar and style
or usage. "Grammar" is usually understood to mean the
arrangement, relationships, and functions of words
and the ways they are put together to form phrases,
clauses, and sentences. "Usage" or "style" is the way
in which words and phrases are actually used, spoken,
or written in a language community.

To get back to your main point, I agree with you
that language does evolve. But I still maintain that
although one needs to be flexible in enforcing some
rules when the result is awkward or unclear, grammatical
rules provide us with a common structure with which to
communicate. Dismissing them by saying they're silly or
just "a bunch of rules we learned in high school" is lazy
and unhelpful. We can all provide cases where a sentence
might be clearer by choosing not to apply standard
rules, but in most cases, sentences are clearer and
more easily understood if you do apply them.

We certainly have evolved the style in which we present
information due to the various media in which that
information is provided. However, I don't think that
the actual writing itself has had to change all that
much in our brave new digital age. When my organization
was trying to develop a chapter for our style guide that
would address writing for online presentation, we discovered
that the majority of the rules that the team suggested were
applicable for printed documentation as well.

In the end, we are all trying to encourage clear,
consistent, and accurate writing. I believe that
judicious application of a common set of rules is
the way to achieve that goal.

-- Janice

P.S. Nice dodge but if you're going to say to an
editor "do you have any idea how many grammatical
errors there were in your letter?" you should be
able and willing to back up your claim with specific
examples :->

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address


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Re: Wrong? Poor style? OK?: From: Michael West
RE: Grammar: From: David Hailey

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