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Subject:Re: Changing our Language From:Garret Romaine <GRomaine -at- MSMAIL -dot- RADISYS -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 18 Dec 1995 10:54:00 PST
David Fisher said (in part):
> It is our professional obligation to follow these rules in order to make
> communication clear. If language needs to change, leave it to the
> who have changed language in the past to do so. Our job is to hold the
> against the constant onslaught of improper grammar and word usage. As
> professional writers, we must follow the standards.
Then Guy Haas said (in part):
>If change were left to the academics, it would never happen. Change comes
>from usage. Our task involves adopting useful changes. Lexicographers
>do not make change, they report it.
>Our job is not "to hold the line against the constant onslaught", but to
>communicate effectively--not to write to be understood, but to write so as
>not to be misunderstood. Anything that gets in the way of understanding is
Here's where I have to jump in, because this is the kind of stuff I love
about our job and our industry. No, I'm not kidding, and I don't think of
this as boring.
I take Guy's side, being a rebel by nature. I used to get positive notes
from a kindly 5th grade teacher when I invented words. Hey, if it worked,
who could argue? It was mostly a sign of a limited vocabulary, and once he
pointed out words that might fit better, I used them instead.
Ok, ok, the point. As communicators, we can't use the excuse that "it goes
against the standard" if we find a better way. We *have* to push the
envelope. We're the ones who pushed for online help, pushed word processors
into desktop publishing, pushed usability testing. We aren't slaves to
standards, because if we were, not much would ever improve.
Granted, sometimes we push to much, and it doesn't work. Then we try
something else. But we can't leave it to the academics. They don't so much
change things as ratify the changes. They look at the world through the
rearview mirror. We're in the front seat. We *are* the unrelenting
gromaine -at- radisys -dot- com
You're a real bush hog, ain't ya, Josie Wales? I'd just as soon shoot ya
But it'd be harder to drag your body through the brush.
- The Outlaw Josie Wales