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GRAMMAR TIME!


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#21 Pax (unregistered)

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 09:32 AM

For me, what specific words actually mean is more important than general grammar. Picking the right word is more important than strict grammatical orthodoxy.

Jason, what do your "constituents" constitute? Do you mean visitor? Reader? Customer? Board member? Student? Faculty? Staff member? Or did you mean to refer vaguely to those in some way served by the Facebook page (including those with no relationship to the college whatsoever)?

On a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal recording, Myers and his guest were discussing the meaning of the word arrive, which (in French IIRC) means to come to a shore of a river, and how it was perhaps inaccurate to use the word to discuss a plane landing at an airport or a ship coming into port on an island. (In other words, the "Arrivals" board at an airport perhaps should say "Landings".) Now, that's taking it a bit far, but I do think it's important to be aware of the history of words.

Edited by Pax, 03 March 2011 - 02:50 PM.


#22 M. Leary

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 10:06 AM

On a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal recording, Myers and his guest were discussing the meaning of the word arrive, which (in French IIRC) means to come to a shore of a river, and how it was perhaps inaccurate to use the word to discuss a plane landing at an airport or a ship coming into port on an island.


:graduate:

That is a classic case of root fallacy.

:-

#23 Jason Panella

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 10:46 AM

Jason, what do your "constituents" constitute? Do you mean visitor? Reader? Customer? Board member? Student? Faculty? Staff member? Or did you mean to refer vaguely to those in some way served by the Facebook page (including those with no relationship to the college whatsoever)?


I was referring to our college community: alumni, employees, students, parents of students.

On a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal recording, Myers and his guest were discussing the meaning of the word arrive, which (in French IIRC) means to come to a shore of a river, and how it was perhaps inaccurate to use the word to discuss a plane landing at an airport or a ship coming into port on an island. (In other words, the "Arrivals" board at an airport perhaps should say "Landings".) Now, that's taking it a bit far, but I do think it's important to be aware of the history of words.


I'm not sure if this was general advice (if so, I agree!), or specific re: "constituents" (if so...it just proves that I suck at writing).

#24 mrmando

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 02:47 PM

That is a classic case of root fallacy.

Yes. How many of us have a mortgage? How many of us are aware that the root words mean "death pledge"? That observation is good for black humor, I suppose, but thank goodness it has no practical value.

Using the "arrive" logic, you obviously can't "disembark" from a plane either. Or from anything but a boat.

Meaning is a question of intersubjectivity rather than of roots. Knowing whether a violin was made in Italy or in France is of no use in playing the thing.

Read first:

On Writing Well, Wm. Zinsser
The Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Then read:

Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace,
Joseph M. Williams

I came across a lengthy blog post somewhere, written by a Williams acolyte, which spent a good deal of time attacking both Zinsser and Strunk & White. But I think you need to absorb the first two before you're ready for the more rigorous Williams. They all have their strong points. Any of them would help the average writer seeking to improve in the areas of style and grammar.

Edited by mrmando, 03 March 2011 - 02:53 PM.


#25 Jason Panella

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 02:55 PM

I came across a lengthy blog post somewhere, written by a Williams acolyte, which spent a good deal of time attacking both Zinsser and Strunk & White. But I think you need to absorb the first two before you're ready for the more rigorous Williams. They all have their strong points. Any of them would help the average writer seeking to improve in the areas of style and grammar.



I've read The Elements of Style eight or nine times, and (once) considered it a near-sacred text. This and the other suggestions are great, mando.

#26 Josh Hurst

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 03:38 PM

I work for an editing/proofreading/general writing service, if anyone ever needs such a thing. Warning: We are not cheap. Or at least, I don't think we are. I really don't know what to compare us to.

#27 mrmando

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 03:51 PM

Um. You might want to check for consistency of serial comma use on your home page.

#28 Josh Hurst

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 03:56 PM

You're really reaching, aren't you?

#29 SDG

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 03:59 PM

I don't see it.

#30 mrmando

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 04:03 PM

Perhaps I am reaching. There is a serial comma in the second paragraph, but there is a series in the first paragraph with no comma. However, between "no serial commas" (AP Stylebook) and "use serial commas" (Chicago Manual of Style), there are a couple of intermediate rules that I've seen in "house" or company stylebooks, which make exceptions for complex lists. Since the list in the second paragraph is complex, one could infer that Josh's home page copy follows one of these intermediate rules.

However, when we get to the "About Us" page, there are serial commas in simple lists. So there is a consistency problem with the site as a whole.

Edited by mrmando, 03 March 2011 - 04:38 PM.


#31 Persona

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:44 AM

Congradulshuns,, Mando! You have, made me, never want to type, at least, try and do any grammer, around you guys, ever again,.

#32 BethR

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:31 PM

March 4 is National Grammar Day!
Grammar Girl brings you her top five grammar tips; "Affect/Effect" is #1

#33 Persona

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:36 PM

March 4 is National Grammar Day!
Grammar Girl brings you her top five grammar tips; "Affect/Effect" is #1

Beth gets us out of serial killer comma land and back on topic. Beth, you RULE!

I will check that out... Headed to the library, will check there ...

#34 mrmando

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:04 PM

dont worry stef i wont parse anything U write unless U pay me...

#35 Jason Panella

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:36 PM

That list is great, Beth. Thanks!

Beth gets us out of serial killer comma land and back on topic. Beth, you RULE!

I will check that out... Headed to the library, will check there ...



Grammar problems aside, I do a lot of proofreading (specifically AP style) for my job. I'm watching your commas, Stef.








OK, I'm not.

#36 Persona

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:55 PM

Would you rather have a sentence that ends like this?!

Or would you rather have a sentence that ends like this

Would you rather eat chicken or fish.

Would you rather slide down a 50 foot razor blade into a huge vat of salt or staple a piece of balogna to your forehead and stick your head in a piranha tank --

Edited by Persona, 04 March 2011 - 02:56 PM.


#37 mrmando

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 02:50 PM

Would you rather have a sentence that ends like this?!

Or would you rather have a sentence that ends like this

The former. The latter sentence does not end.

Would you rather eat chicken or fish.

Yes.

Or ...

Why can't I eat chicken while I fish?

Would you rather slide down a 50 razor blade into a huge vat of salt or staple a piece of balogna to your forehead and stick your head in a pirhanna tank --

Well, we are missing the unit type on the razor blade dimension. Remember how Spinal Tap ended up with an 18-inch Stonehenge? If it were a 50-micron razor blade, I'd probably go for it. A 50-meter razor blade, not so much. Anyhow, there's no such thing as a "pirhanna," so perhaps the latter option is safer, except for the stapling part (ouch!). Now if it were a piranha tank ... hm ... maybe not.

#38 Persona

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 02:56 PM

Oh, sorry about that, that is supposed to read "50 foot razor blade," actually going back to fix that one...

PS gonna have to begin the spelling thread which sits alongside the grammer theread

#39 mrmando

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 03:16 PM

I might choose the razor blade if I got to slide down its surface, rather than its edge...

#40 BethR

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 08:38 AM

Boys, boys! :o

Sorry--couldn't resist.

Edited by BethR, 05 March 2011 - 08:38 AM.