Re: George Hayhoe, a rant, and a resignation

Subject: Re: George Hayhoe, a rant, and a resignation
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: Fri, 27 Mar 2009 07:34:33 +1100

David Hailey wrote:
> 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.
>
[snip]
>
> 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.
>

I notice that Dr Hailey did not deal with my rather
longer post in which I addressed some of his issues
point by point. Madelyn's choice of a flounce to
describe this reaction is a good one (and a word
I haven't heard since I left Atlanta, I don't
think!) but a more common description would be
"taking his ball and bat and going home."

First, I'd like to say that I hadn't realized that
Jim had such awesome powers: according to Dr Hailey,
merely by responding, "he shut the topic down." Can't
imagine how it was that I managed to respond to it
afterward anyway :->

More seriously, this isn't the first and definitely
won't be the last time that someone online has
provided a lengthy exposition of his or her own
very individual ideas and then retreated when
someone dared challenge them without ever responding
to the challenge. My feeling is, if you're going to
participate in an online forum, you have to be
prepared to discuss and defend your ideas, not just
deliver them from on high and expect them to be
accepted just because you bluster about how well
qualified you are to hold them and because a single
preferred source of yours backs you up.

Not a great loss, imho...

-- Janice

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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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