Re: grammar and all that

Subject: Re: grammar and all that
From: Damien Braniff <Damien_Braniff -at- PAC -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 09:49:33 +0100

Re grammar, spelling etc on the list I don't feel that it's that important -
nice but not vital; as several people have said mails are usually done almost as
a break from "proper" work.

As to it's use in that proper work I feel that that is another matter. The
language we use is, like Word, Frame, etc., simply another tool of the trade
that we have to master. The problem is that as everybody uses the language it is
sometimes assumed that it "comes naturally" - it doesn't. We learn it like
everything else through lessons and examples. It's a bit like driving a car -
who taught you? Your parents? A driving instructor? Other? It's something most
of us do and no doubt we all think we do it well (not necessarily wrong and not
necessarily what everyone else thinks!).

To continue the analogy, you could show anyone the basics of driving and they
could drive drive down a country lane without any serious mishaps but put them
in the middle of a city.... To me grammar etc is like the highway code (do you
have that in the US?), road signs etc that help us navigate safely from A to B.
Not everyone knows all the rules of the road but everyone who drives should know
a minimum subset and aim to learn more.

Having said all that, you cna know all the rules going but if the car itself
isn't sound...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel that we need to ensure that we
have the BASICS so that when we write we don't send out any wrong signals to the
reader that may make understanding the text harder. We cannot separate the
content from the delivery, each is an integral part of the overall package we
should be delivering. As to some of the more esoteric rules that exist, nice to
know them but not, I feel, essential. I've read sentences (whole documents)
that perfectly followed all the rules of grammar etc but which were well nigh
impossible to comprehend. Know the rules but don't go over the top - use what's
appropriate. I'm sure in the other tools we use there are functions available
that we never (or rarely) use just because they aren't appropriate for what
we're writing.

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
PAC International


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