Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 30th, 2010, 6:08 pm

Interesting points, Sommer. Naming something can give us power over it, but sometimes it seems to work in reverse. Demanding a person define their terms can abruptly end a conversation. Analysis paralysis can set in. I have learned and relearned grammatical terms over the years, but, like your husband's students, I still work best by experience and intuition, rarely thinking of the terms by name.

I wouldn't take too much notice of the kid with glasses in the STOP EMBARRASSING YOURSELF video. He's so over-intense he'll probably be dead from apoplexy or something before he's thirty.

BTW, the opossums are just recycling your garbage.

Cheekychook, I hear Lolcatspeak will soon be recognized as an official language by the UN.

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Claudie » September 30th, 2010, 8:10 pm

AMSchilling wrote: Then again, I also still say "My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets," to remember the order of the solar system. Sorry, but Pluto got robbed. I'll keep my saying as is. :-)
This made me laugh, mostly because at first I was thinking "What the Hell?" So random trivia for you guys: the French one is "Mon vieux tu m'as laissé sur une nouvelle planète."

I'm happy not to be cursed with the affect/effect one. There were enough others I had to sort through, any help is welcomed.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 1st, 2010, 8:30 am

[quote="Mira"]Sommer: Restuarant! That's an impossible one for me too!

I don't know why it makes me feel better knowing someone else can't spell a word, but it does. :) quote]


Not only can I not spell resteraunt, but I actually spent a couple of years as a restaraunt critic for a newspaper.


I'll tell you what, it makes me so relieved to know I'm not the only one who makes some of these mistakes. I want to jump up and down and hug everyone.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Quill » October 1st, 2010, 9:51 am

I'm a crotchety curmudgeon when it comes to language. I try to hold onto old usages. Back when "more important" was being replaced by "more importantly" by the evening newscasters, an elderly writer friend bemoaned the fact, saying "something is more important, it is not more importantly." I rued along with him. He's gone now, but I still rue, and revel in old movies and books where things are still more important, they haven't been adverbialized seemingly for the heck of it. Aren't I obsessive?

Now my main peeve is the use of apostrophe to pluralize, which has been a rampant meme for some years, but seems to have reached epidemic proportions. I see it more and more on signage: The Smith's; Matthew and Son's Heating Service's; Employee's Only; as well as willy-nilly in ads: Fire Places, B-B-Que's, Flagstones, Fountain's. I wonder what the thinking is, when in doubt throw in an apostrophe? My question is, will it ever become acceptable dictionary spelling, or at least optional correct spelling, seeing as the English language is so changeable? It seems to be headed that way. Books appear to be the last bastion of pluralization sans apostrophe.

My own curses include recieve/receive. Thank god for spell check on that one. Necessary, Unneeded, Successful, Exercise, Recommend all provide challenges, too. The double sound/ double letter words. Plus lay/lie will probably remain a mystery forever, despite the fabulous explanation by polymath in this thread. I should write that one out and tape it over my desk.

This thread is gold. Let's sticky it.

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by unprintableme » October 1st, 2010, 10:10 am

When the dog barks,
When the bee stings,
When I feel less literate than some,

I go to Craigslist dot org and look at some posts,

And then I don't feel...

So dumb

(for those who have watched The Sound of Music...)

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 11:04 am

polymath wrote:Were/was, regardless of narrative person in most cases, have objective and subjunctive case distinction usages.
Thannk you, polymath. That was just the explanation I needed.
AMSchilling wrote:2. I hate semi-colons. It's a sickness, I know. My novel has exactly two semi-colons in it, and that's only because I had no choice.
Would be great if it were contagious. I find writing laden with semi-colons (and other creative punctuation) to be extremely distracting when I'm trying to just enjoy the story. I see colons, semi-colons, and ellipses much as I see said-bookisms. The comma (provided it's not splicing) and period, like 'said', are pleasantly invisible. They don't try to upstage the stars of the show.

Death to the semi-colon!
unprintableme wrote:When the dog barks,
When the bee stings,
When I feel less literate than some,

I go to Craigslist dot org and look at some posts,

And then I don't feel...

So dumb
I really really needed that. Much appreciated.


On another note, I'm considering circulating a world-wide proposition to make the usage of the Oxford Comma mandatory. :)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 12:20 pm

AMSchilling wrote:I hate semi-colons.
Saw this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurahelen ... otostream/

...and thought of you. :)

[Edit...I just saw the one about Strunk and White. Read the comment right under it. I'm crying and hyperventilating right now. I might be in love.]
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 1st, 2010, 12:28 pm

unprintableme wrote:When the dog barks,
When the bee stings,
When I feel less literate than some,

I go to Craigslist dot org and look at some posts,

And then I don't feel...

So dumb

(for those who have watched The Sound of Music...)

This is really the most wonderful thing ever. I just sang it to a coworker. Thank you!
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by polymath » October 1st, 2010, 1:15 pm

Margo wrote:
polymath wrote:Were/was, regardless of narrative person in most cases, have objective and subjunctive case distinction usages.
Thank you, polymath. That was just the explanation I needed.
You're welcome, Margo, and Quill, for lay/lie.

I used to be grammar clueless. I remember when. I didn't need to be grammar strong. Speaking didn't require so much attention to detail. Once I had to get into it though, I noticed there was a lot of conflicting usage. The serial comma, aka the Oxford comma, one style manual authority says A, B, and C, another says A, B and C. Punctuation with quote marks, one manual says small punctuation inside, another says all punctuation outside when not part of the original citation. Internet communication favors the latter, the so-called logical quote of Wikipedia's style manual, and standard in the MLA style manual. U.S. prose publication favors the former. I guess one standard, fewer exceptions is easier to remember and apply with confidence. But it's trending toward no exceptions, all punctuation outside regardless. Something's lost in reading ease when periods and commas and question marks are always outside the quote marks, like terminal stops inside are more invisible than when outside.

I stood my ground on what I learned as I learned whatever. I came up against some hard heads. Heated arguments ensued. Just pointing out the difference between its and it's got ugly. I guess the opposition came from an idea casual writing, like for forum posts, doesn't count. However, the prose was just as grammatically slack. Your, you're; there, their, they're; and, an issues too and many others. Let the publisher's editors deal with it.

The more I expanded my horizons style manual-wise, the more I realized there's no standard style, per se. Some standards across the board, more than a few deviations though. My mind expanded to encompass the whys and wherefores of differing standards. Why particularly. Associated Press style conserves space, thus the A, B and C standard. The principle of spell out numerals one through ten, numerals othewise in all cases. Chicago followed A, B, and C through thirteen editions. Post middle Twentieth century Postmodernism, they downstyled in edition fourteen, then went back to the traditional serial comma in edition fifteen. I like it that they are open to change, but went back to the formal standard in that regard.

The trend since Noah Webster for U.S. Standard Written English has been toward downstyling. He downstyled capitalization of nouns, setting a principle where all common nouns were lower case, proper nouns remained capped. Downstyle caps, downstyle punctuation, downstyle, downstyle, downstyle has been ever more prevalent since Webster. Downstyle favors reading ease, typesetting ease, comprehension ease.

Downstyle punctuation favors sparse colon, semicolon, dash, ellipsis points, parentheses, brackets, and braces, but the serial comma stubbornly remains necessary. Reading prose ease favors the sole stops, period, question mark, and comma. The serial comma survives because of stream of consciousness polysyndeton and serial listing it supports. Nesting lists most importantly. Manuel stood up, stretched, glanced around, and sat back down and resumed his watch and relaxed, content he was earning a few bucks and getting some sleep on his twenty-four hour workday.

In time, I relaxed on correcting improper grammar. Because, you know, if it works, it works. Who am I to dictate proper grammar when communication is paramount. The rules aren't laws, they're principles, wisdoms worth understanding, but not absolutes. I don't like being dictated to and chafe when I am. The law I abide without question: There are no absolute, save the one, there are no absolutes.

So then what's the need to follow a set of rules set down in the mists of time and moving toward less rule-bound prescription and more creative description? Consensus. We all abide within limits so we can communicate effectively. But language is alive, English perhaps more alive than any other language. Romance languages have prescriptive-oriented agencies that guard against language drift. French, Spanish, Italian. But South American and Meso American Spanish speaking nations' common people ignore the formal prescriptive dictates of the Real Academia Española, which zealously guards against drift. Mexican Spanish speakers tend to be most inclined toward drift, probably due to closest interaction with U.S. Americans and the U.S.'s lack of a prescriptive agency. Free will rules!

Okay. I came to terms with grammar, punctuation, style mechanics, and language bête noires that set my goat a burning. If it works, it works. The opposite being if it disrupts reading it doesn't work. The trend is toward invisible punctuation, words, prose, and narrative so that the page disappears and readers are transported into a narrative setting in closest possible narrative distance. Though even that has detractors who believe too close doesn't allow for conscious, conscientious, critical thinking.

A journey of ten thousand leagues begun with a first step has taken me far. Into the language singularity and out, back again and again, emerging with a full realization it all plays in one way or another. Figuring out which when why no longer holds me back.
Spread the love of written word.

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by dios4vida » October 1st, 2010, 4:50 pm

Margo wrote:
AMSchilling wrote:2. I hate semi-colons. It's a sickness, I know. My novel has exactly two semi-colons in it, and that's only because I had no choice.
Would be great if it were contagious. I find writing laden with semi-colons (and other creative punctuation) to be extremely distracting when I'm trying to just enjoy the story. I see colons, semi-colons, and ellipses much as I see said-bookisms. The comma (provided it's not splicing) and period, like 'said', are pleasantly invisible. They don't try to upstage the stars of the show.

Death to the semi-colon!
My first drafts are chock full of semi-colons. I naturally write and speak in complex sentences that (at first) make sense with a semi-colon. One of my betas absolutely abhors semi-colons and crosses out every single one in my second draft. It bothers me because that's the way I write, but at the same time when I edit the sentences they usually sound better as two (and I'm getting used to it). I'd love to just write it that way in the first place, but for some reason I just can't. I simply don't notice the semi-colons; they seem like a perfectly natural pause in my sentence structure. :-P

My grammar bane is toward/towards. Did he go toward the mountain, or towards the mountain? Is towards even a proper word?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by polymath » October 1st, 2010, 6:17 pm

I'm not going to touch the vagaries of toward/towards. Dictionaries of English usage amply cover their ins and outs. Actually, some of the more humorous ins and outs of language discussed there.
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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 6:57 pm

dios4vida wrote:My first drafts are chock full of semi-colons.
Mine were too until I started doing more reading for other people and noticed how distracting they were and how much harder they usually made it to follow the prose.
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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 7:00 pm

polymath wrote:Reading prose ease favors the sole stops, period, question mark, and comma. The serial comma survives because of stream of consciousness polysyndeton and serial listing it supports.
You took the words out of my mouth. Then dressed them up a little nicer. Okay, a lot nicer. :) Or some junk.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by AMSchilling » October 1st, 2010, 7:10 pm

Margo, I spit out chunks of Oreo when I opened that link. I might just have to print it out and hang it in my writing space. :-)
-Amy

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Re: Grammar, Language, and Communication: Ask & Answer

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 8:07 pm

AMSchilling wrote:Margo, I spit out chunks of Oreo when I opened that link. I might just have to print it out and hang it in my writing space. :-)
Score!

Crap. That reminds me I left my print-outs on my desk at work (face-down, thank goodness, since I printed out all of them). :)
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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