Re: Is Grammar Important?

Subject: Re: Is Grammar Important?
From: Jeroen Hendrix <jhe -at- POLYDOC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 18:07:09 +0200

> Tony Markatos wrote:
> A little bit of grammar knowledge never hurt anyone. Having said that,
> numerous studies have concluded that there is no correlation at all
> grammar knowledge and effective technical communications. In fact, too
> grammar knowledge can actually hinder communication.

on which Jonathan Soukup wrote

> I agree. A little grammar never hurt anyone, but we should never get so
> caught up in grammar that we lose site of our goal, to produce clear,
> concise, and understandable documentation. If no one understands what you
> write, what difference does it make if it is punctuated correctly or in
> proper tense?

Again, let us not confuse grammar ( = language) with conventions or style.
Use of punctuation is a convention. These are by definition (arbitrary)
rules, devised by scholars. Use of "proper" tense or prescribing that you
shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, is a matter of style. Style is
arbitrary as well. You choose a style and set of rules that fits your
purpose: getting the message across to the intended audience. And in this
choice you need to be as consistent and as clear as possible to avoid

Grammar evolves, almost as a 'living' thing. Grammar is encoded in our
brains when we listen to adults speak, during the infant years. Thanks to
grammar, words are grouped together in a particular order, thus enabling
communication between people. Grammar existed long before people started to
write. It has little to do with the written representation of
communication. Heck, the use of the alphabet as a phonetic representation
of sounds is a convention as well and is just an attempt to convey ideas
across paper or screen.

Therefore you can never know "too much grammar". Grammar is cognitive set
of codes and parameters that everyone carries with them. This doesn't mean
that you need to be aware of them, you just know them. Grammar cannot be
prescribed, only described. Grammar never hinders communication, it enables
communication, it is the engine for communication. It's arbitrary rules and
styles that can hinder .

Yet two more eurocents (the pile is growing, who's going to cash in?)

Jeroen Hendrix
the Netherlands

Mail to: jhe -at- polydoc -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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