Mighty Red Pen

November 24, 2007

So you think you can write?

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 3:46 pm

Hat tips to David and Blue for a pair of interesting articles about writing.

David shared “Tech Writers, Grammar, and the Prescriptive Attitude,” by Bruce Byfield, an interesting discussion of the differences between prescriptive (clinging didactically to grammar rules) and descriptive (accepting that language changes) approaches to applying grammar. 

The article is directed at technical writers, but interesting generally to word nerds. MRP would like to excerpt the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

Prescriptive grammar is useful for teaching English as a second language, but it has little value for the practicing writer. Clinging to it may provide emotional security, but only at the expense of making writing harder than it needs to be. The culture-wide devotion to it will not be changed in a moment. But conscientious writers can at least change their own habits, and make life easier for themselves. And, from time to time, they can even laugh some worn-out, crippling concept–such as not ending a sentence in a preposition, or not splitting an infinitive–into the recycle bin where it belongs.

Blue shared “Sloppy Writing at Work Has Dire Consequences,” a pithier discussion of the importance of being able to write clearly, no matter what you do. Rachel Zupek writes,

Plain and simple, some people just don’t have a flair for words. Think of how often you hear your co-workers say, “I can write if I have to, but I’m not very good at it.”  Moore disagrees, noting that anyone can write, but workers confuse business writing with skills needed to write a novel or poem. People think they’re bad at writing because they have no process.

Read this piece for some simple tips on getting in touch with your inner word nerd.


1 Comment »

  1. Nifty!

    Comment by Blue — November 27, 2007 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

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