My compositional bête noire is not, generally speaking, the grammatical gaffe (although there are a few to which I occasionally fall prey), but rather a tendency to prolix, convoluted prose, full of indefensibly subordinate clauses. I am overly fond of using semicolons to separate independent but logically-connected sentences; although this construction is generally grammatically defensible, it requires excessive work from my readers (if, indeed, after the first few sentences, I have any left).
My writing usually contains relatively few grammatical gaffes. However, when you find my prose clear and easy to read, I probably spent some time editing it.
Michael K Johnson June 24, 2012 22:04
With the Tom Kamenick referenced in the article, I take the Oxford comma as a shibboleth. I distrust all linguistic opinions from anyone who argues against its use, or even suggests that its use should be optional.
Arjan van de Ven June 24, 2012 22:05
remember… there is no point in punctuation
Michael K Johnson June 24, 2012 22:10
+Arjan van de Ven Heh!
I now see that the Android G+ app does not reproduce the “strikeout” for my first paragraph, which rather ruins the joke. Hey, Google, is Android not powerful enough to render that? Why can’t we have consistent presentation?
Eugene Crosser June 25, 2012 00:50
Aw, but the oversimplification of grammar takes away all the fun from reading!
Cristian Gafton June 25, 2012 08:26
So reading through stuff like http://litreactor.com/columns/20-common-grammar-mistakes-that-almost-everyone-gets-wrong , if indeed there are grammar issues that “everyone” botches, at what point do grammar nazis get called out to be told to shove it, since their utopian “You oughtta say it like this” world doesn’t exist no more?
Michael K Johnson June 25, 2012 09:34
+Cristian Gafton Hyperbolic titles aside (as the author of that piece says, “grammar is an ultra-micro component in the larger picture”), I’m in the descriptive grammar camp myself. If a grammatical distinction isn’t actually helping readers, it’s not worthwhile.
I use “whom” when I want to, but I don’t expect others to use it since it has become relatively uncommon. My only annoyance regarding “whom” is when people use “whom” for the nominative case. That’s neither classically correct grammar nor common usage, so neither prescriptive nor descriptive grammarians approve…
António Meireles June 25, 2012 10:19
the issue at core, here, lies elsewhere. In today’s’ ever speedy world, ‘old style’ rigor and detail is no longer seen as something fundamental. We’re in the age of twitter, and its’ 140 chars length ’truths’, we ‘re in the age of the ‘not perfect but good enough’, so it is absolutely normal that grammar use, and language in general suffer. A large set of the society feels absolutely no need to be _absolutely precise, and rigorous - the ‘‘general’ concept, the silhouette, is often seem as enough by those, and worst those who fight against this trend, who ‘complicate’, are seen as simply out of touch. What is really, really worrisome, is that in our increasingly more complex world (we depend too much, more than ever, on too much (say tech, for example, ‘unaccounted’ factors) rigor is more needed than ever… And what are we doing … trading it for blind faith … in that ‘machines’ will always work, that the ‘system’ (banking or whatever) will always be reliable, etc. Being that all that is made at our own image… sooner our later of ‘simplifications’ will come back to hurt us all. As a french would say - ‘c’est la vie.’
Cristian Gafton June 25, 2012 23:43
I done got me a 19 on this kwizz here: http://reason.com/blog/2012/06/24/grammartarian-usage-laws-at-wsj. Obviousley my grammar is teh suck. Spelining to.
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