Re: Grammar and usage

Subject: Re: Grammar and usage
From: PJ Rose <PJRose -at- EWORLD -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 1994 05:56:51 PST

I've been lurking on this list for about a month now, and I want to say that
I really appreciate the discussions on "that/which" and on
infinitive-splitting. It seems to me that 'net interaction may well benefit
language more than anything since the invention of the printing press.

But, peronally:

1. I decide whether to use "that" or "which" based on which one leaves the
least doubt as to what I'm trying to say. As it turns out, I have been
applying the restrictive vs. unrestrictive rule all along, although I had
never heard it explained that way. I also generally use a comma before
"which", but then I use commas liberally for clarity (although my usage of
commas depends on the type of document I'm working on, i.e., the audience).

2. I split infinitives whenever it will make the sentence read better. (I
used to do it just because it made my 9th grade English teacher apoplexic.)

Speaking of grammatical usage, I'd like to raise another issue. It is my
belief that grammar has always ultimately been defined by usage, although it
often takes many years for a particular usage to be considered acceptable.
Now, we are seeing a strange anomaly: grammatical usage of registered (and
unregistered) trademarks is dictated by law. Although I completely understand
the intentions behind this, I find the restrictions being put on writers by
lawyers to be ludicrous. I can't write, "He wiped his nose with a Kleenex,"
but must instead say "He wiped his nose with a Kleenex tissue," or worse, "He
wiped his nose with a Kleenex (TM) tissue." (It may be Kleenex (R) tissue in
this case: I don't remember.) Some companies have gone further, using
corporate standards and guidelines to discourage use of their trademarks and
service marks in specific grammatical constructions (such as in the
possessive case).


PJ Rose
Technical Writing Consultant

pjrose -at- aol -dot- com
pjrose -at- eworld -dot- com
73511 -dot- 2163 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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