RE: George Hayhoe, a rant, and a resignation

Subject: RE: George Hayhoe, a rant, and a resignation
From: "Pinkham, Jim" <Jim -dot- Pinkham -at- voith -dot- com>
To: "David Hailey" <david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:29:16 -0500

Well, sir! I have appreciated your contributions, and I certainly did
not intend to offend you.

If I might gently suggest it, the further information you have provided
makes your perspective less ambiguous. You have achieved greater
clarity.

For the record, I don't believe I ever said of grammar and style that
never the twain shall meet. In practical terms, however, we do make
distinctions between them. For instance, we have separate reference
works for grammar and for style. (Though I don't know that I have ever
seen a tome devoted purely to punctuation, rather than as a subset of
grammar). Sorry, some gratuitous tongue-in-cheek there.

In any case, I'm quite sure that I do not "know it all." I suspect most
of us on the list have that same self-awareness. The tone of your aptly
titled rant verges on the condescending, both to me and to the list at
large, which does not further the dialogue. To say "there are no
important issues on this forum" is, to put it charitably, a rather
sweeping dismissal.

If you reconsider, I expect to remain interested in your further posts.
Either way, I wish you well.

Jim

-----Original Message-----
From: David Hailey [mailto:david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu]
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:46 AM
To: Pinkham, Jim; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: George Hayhoe, a rant, and a resignation

GEORGE:
A few years ago I ran into George Hayhoe at a conference in San
Francisco. He was sufficiently upset with TECHWR-L that it was the first
thing he wanted to discuss. Before I proceed, you should know that as
long-time editor of TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION and a working professional
of several decades, Hayhoe is possibly the best resource TECHWR-L ever
had. But you drove him away. Why? There was a community of know it alls
who were prepared to trot out their uninformed opinions, like Shetland
ponies at a Clydesdale show, in response to every single post. Hayhoe
finally concluded that there was nothing he could contribute to the
community as long as these people persisted in disrupting every
conversation with trivia. So he resigned from the forum.

A RANT:
I posted a message titled "Grammar," where I said:
Back in the ninth grade we were taught "grammar." In reality that is not
grammar; it is a study of mechanical processes and a truly insignificant
part of what grammarians study. Even undergraduate writing classes
barely touch on the larger issue that is grammar. Let me try to
explain."

Within the day I had a response: "It seems to me, David, that you use
"grammar" here in a way that could be construed as interchangeable with
"style," and I'm not sure that blurring that distinction is altogether
helpful. I'm inclined to think of grammar as more normative, and style
as more preference."

This is one of those uninformed opinions that drove Hayhoe crazy. It is
like saying, "You are talking about punctuation, not grammar." But style
is an important part of the larger issue. Think about it. Why do we
punctuate? We punctuate for clarity and style. What was I talking about
when I suggested we have no grammar for this forum? Clarity and style.
More important, my post was not based on my opinion, it was based on the
results of hundreds of years of research by people much smarter than me.

In THE CAMBRIGE GRAMMER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, they extensively
discuss the issue of style as a component of grammar, having headings
such as, "Confusing Ungrammatical Style with Ungrammaticality."
Recognizing that style is a part of grammar is critical to recognizing
that the rules of grammar lead to effectively controlling style in your
writing. BTW, if you really want to understand this topic, check out
http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam033/2001025630.pdf.

By trotting out his opinion, Jim basically said, "You are wrong because
you don't know the difference between grammar and style," when he might
have looked at my posting, done a GoogleScholar search and a little
research, and come back with meaningful contribution. That done, we
could have had a discussion over an issue important to the forum.
Instead, he shut the topic down because there is no arguing with
uninformed opinions without offending someone.


A RESIGNATION:

Like Hayhoe, I joined the forum in hopes of keeping my finger on
important issues in the field, and perhaps from time to time
contributing something. But I have found that there are no important
issues on this forum - just ongoing quibbling over insignificant issues.
Moreover, I have found the forum uninterested in anything I might
contribute. That said, I am wasting all of our time remaining here.
Still, I wish you all the best.


David E. Hailey, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Professional and Technical Communication Utah State University

david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu
1 435 797 2741



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Wrong? Poor style? OK?: From: Michael West
RE: Grammar: From: David Hailey
RE: Grammar: From: Pinkham, Jim
RE: George Hayhoe, a rant, and a resignation: From: David Hailey

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