Re: Is GrammAR Important?

Subject: Re: Is GrammAR Important?
From: Julie Knoeller <jknoelle -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 13:49:04 -0700

Grammar comprises the building blocks of the language, and all good writers
have it internalized. Situations in which grammar seems "irrelevant" to
communication upon closer inspection reveal that the writer certainly is
not oblivious to good grammar, but is manipulating grammar for particular
purposes (or maybe it was just a bad writer having a good accident).
Knowing the rules before you break them and then breaking them creatively
can yield excellent results, but this is not the same thing as disregarding
them or being ignorant of them in the first place. Conventions exist for a
reason--so we can undersatnd each other with some degree of certainty. Ever
try learning a foreign language without studying grammar? --particularly a
language very different from English--say, Arabic or Mongolian? You don't
learn a language by studying a Berlitz phrase book (nothing against

There's also a credibility issue that rarely gets mentioned. Don't assume
readers don't know or don't care about the rules. If they see a technical
document that is grammatically incorrect they may not put much faith in
your company's ability to engineer a product either. There are few things
more embarrassing to a pubs department than getting a reader-comment form
back from Japan with a grammar or spelling error noted on it.

Julie Knoeller
Sr. Technical Editor
Cisco Systems, Inc.

At 01:09 PM 5/21/98 +0000, Lisa Higgins wrote:
>> The authors go on to discuss the importance of following the rules of
>> grammar and how accurate information cannot be written without using
>> grammar. So yes, grammar is important and, I would say, required.
>Speaker will are you if 'grammar' in no a readability of human
>native any difference language make!
>Prescriptive grammar (usage) today is one of the silliest and most
>inaccurate subjects taught in school.
>How many parts of speech do they say there are? Seven or something?
>They tell that funny, funny story about Winston Churchill saying
>"That is a bunch of ridiculous pendantry up with with I will not
>put" because, you know, it's illegal to end a sentence in a ... a
>... a ... verb particle.
>They tell us not to split infinitives. Because they don't want people
>to manipufreakin'late the English language like that!
>The state of English 'grammar' taught in schools is roughly
>equivalent to a Geography teacher claiming that the world ends
>a couple of miles out to sea. What continually amazes me is how
>rabidly some will cling to the lies and inaccuracies they learned as
>For this reason ALONE, it may be helpful to scrupulously avoid
>putting words in between a verb and the word 'to.' Only because some
>ninny out there will bleat self-righteously if you don't.
>All that is really important is that you communicate what you need
>to communicate with as few distractions as possible. You must develop
>an ear for what is comfortable. You must write to suit your audience.
>And you must ignore any weird external influences that might cause
>you to lose sight of your real purpose.
>Here be monsters,
>lisarea -at- lucent -dot- com

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