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So trivial, yet it really ticks you off.

LizzieMaine

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I don't much care about the technical niceties of grammar and punctuation, because they've evolved thruout the history of language and will continue to evolve. The English spoken and written in 2022 in many small but legitimate ways, is not the English that was spoken and written in 1942, nor was the English that was spoken and written in 1942 identical to the English spoken in 1862. And so on back to the days of Chaucer.

The whole concept of "standard English" is a social construction, not one bound by immutable linguistic law. What is "standard" evolves based on where and when you are.

As far as literacy goes, the literacy rate in America, despite internet panic to the contrary, is considerably higher today than it was during WWII, when illiteracy made it difficult for Selective Service to fill military quotas. A ruling that 10 percent of selectees could be "illiterate if intelligent and trainable" had to be cut in half after a year's experience proved that widespread illiteracy in the ranks was compromising the efficiency of troops in the field.
 

tonyb

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There is not one clearly defined (or definable, arguably) level of written language competency that qualifies as “literate.” But the overwhelming majority of American adults are literate at its most basic — the ability to read and comprehend simple instructions.

“Proper” spelling and punctuation and capitalization, etc., makes reading one’s prose far easier. But what’s proper today differs from what was and what will be. Shakespeare is modern English, but for an American born into a working-class family in the middle of the last century, it took a real effort to make sense of it.

My sister-in-law the high school English teacher demonstrates to her young charges the importance of proper capitalization by telling the story about Uncle Jack who was having difficulty getting off the horse.
 
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tonyb

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^^^^^
I’m not so sure a teacher wouldn’t have made a similar observation when I was in high school, lo those many years ago (I can think of a couple of them who might have), but he or she would likelier have broached the matter a tad more obliquely, such that only the kids with any imagination to speak of, and who were actually paying attention, would get the joke.

But yes, times have changed in that regard. I sometimes miss the more euphemistic ways of addressing such matters, but on balance we’ve gone in a better direction. Our erstwhile practice of rarely speaking directly too often had the effect of providing cover to abusers. I can remember a time when those odd old uncles (and fathers, and siblings, and … ) got away with diddling the kids, and when it was commonly opined that a husband couldn’t by definition rape his wife because, you know, she was HIS wife, and getting horizontal was her duty as his property.
 
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Who?

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I think that this subject (like many) divides the world into two very different groups.

For group A, speech is mostly a way of interacting, and for group B speech is primarily a way of conveying and exchanging concepts and information.

For group B, precision and clarity of thought and expression are essential. If you can’t sort out someone’s grammar, syntax, sentence structure, antecedents of multiple pronouns, etc. then you have no idea what the hell they are talking about.

For group A, all this is of very little importance, because very little of substance is conveyed or exchanged, in spite of what may be lively “conversation” it actually has very little content.

Yust my opinion.
 

tonyb

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Perhaps the most valuable thing I took away from my cursory introduction to the study of linguistics, all those years ago, is that all grammars are equally rule governed. A distinction must be made between prescriptive and descriptive grammars, though. The latter concerns itself with how speakers actually use the language, and how it is every bit as internally consistent, as true to its own rules, as anything that ever crossed the lips of W.F. Buckley.
 
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LizzieMaine

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I'm of the firm opinion that no one rule applies to any situation. When I'm writing for publication I use language in a different way than I do when I'm killing time on a message board. When I'm writing a comedy script I deliberately play with language in a way that's designed to mess with the listener's expectations and to use hyperbole and exaggeration to achieve its effects. When I'm writing a job reference for an employee, I generally avoid those particular tricks. Generally -- but not always. Depends on the person and the job. (Note that this last sentence was not constructed strictly according to Warriners' from 7B, but the meaning was clearly conveyed. That's the only thing I demand or expect from a sentence)

I think the real value in language comes in its malleability. The person who writes the same way at all times for all situations is a pedant. The person who talks the same way at all times for all situations is a bore.
 

Who?

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A person whose speech is idle prattle, devoid of content and substance, wastes everyone’s time including their own.
 

tonyb

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I'm of the firm opinion that no one rule applies to any situation. When I'm writing for publication I use language in a different way than I do when I'm killing time on a message board. When I'm writing a comedy script I deliberately play with language in a way that's designed to mess with the listener's expectations and to use hyperbole and exaggeration to achieve its effects. When I'm writing a job reference for an employee, I generally avoid those particular tricks. Generally -- but not always. Depends on the person and the job. (Note that thiid last sentence was not constructed strictly according to Warriners' from 7B, but the meaning was clearly conveyed. That's the only thing I demand or expect from a sentence)

I think the real value in language comes in its malleability. The person who writes the same way at all times for all situations is a pedant. The person who talks the same way at all times for all situations is a bore.
Some one-trick ponies are very, very good at that one trick. They’ve found their niche and they fill it admirably.

I’ve read many a stellar essayist who should have left their unfortunate book-length efforts alone. And vice-versa.

What’s insufferable is a writer who tells what amounts to the same story over and over and over again. The particulars change, but the theme doesn’t. I know where the trip ends before I get the seatbelt buckled.
 

LizzieMaine

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^^^^^
Idle prattle is every bit as evident in speakers of the King’s English as in the speech of the illiterate and uneducated. Maybe even more so.
As witness the output of any "think tank." The more skilled you are in the basic use of language, the easier it is to spew out complete nonsense disguised as incisive analysis. Some of the erudite "public intellectuals" you see on cable news channels are better at doubeltalk than Colonel Stoopnagle.
 

ChrisB

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There is not one clearly defined (or definable, arguably) level of written language competency that qualifies as “literate.” But the overwhelming majority of American adults are literate at its most basic — the ability to read and comprehend simple instructions.
The problem is that many people who can read, don’t.
 

Who?

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I have always liked and admired the way in which H. P. Lovecraft used the English language, and I have read a few of his pieces over and over through the years.

I have read LOTR and the Hobbit multiple times, but I find the Silmarillion hopelessly confusing.
 

tonyb

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As witness the output of any "think tank." The more skilled you are in the basic use of language, the easier it is to spew out complete nonsense disguised as incisive analysis. Some of the erudite "public intellectuals" you see on cable news channels are better at doubeltalk than Colonel Stoopnagle.
Have you ever seen that sendup of TED Talks by a self-proclaimed “thought leader”? It’s a hoot.
 
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tonyb

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The problem is that many people who can read, don’t.
I fear you’re right about that. People “read” books by listening in audio format. They “write” by speaking into their smartphones.

I see hints of that in myself. I get easily distracted, especially online, such that reading anything lengthier than a few hundred words can seem more trouble than it’s worth.

But then, as I mentioned earlier in this thread, many books are much longer than they need to be. The information might be better imparted in a much shorter form.
 

Who?

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The very concept of a “thought leader” or an “influencer” makes me want to grind my teeth together.

Are there actually people who really need such persons to “guide” them through life?
 

LizzieMaine

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I fear you’re right about that. People “read” books by listening in audio format. They “write” by speaking into their smartphones.

I see hints of that in myself. I get easily distracted, especially online, such that reading anything lengthier than a few hundred words can seem more trouble than it’s worth.

But then, as I mentioned earlier in this thread, many books are much longer than they need to be. The information might be better imparted in a much shorter form.
One of the things I find more and more off-putting about the internet as it evolves is the increased dependence on videos as a means of conveying information. I'm not a particularly "visual" person, my mind doesn't work that way -- it's easier for me to learn something by reading it than by watching some kid with a trick beard demonstrate it. I get very very frustrated having to sit thru five minutes of "Guys! Guys! Hey! Thanks for watching my video! Be sure to subscribe to my channel for more great content! And a shoutout to my sponsor, Blah Blah's House of Blah for providing the product we're going to demonstrate today, etc. etc." before showing the actual content that I want to see, and when they do show it, it doesn't actually give me the details that I need to know.

I think the internet has actually changed the way minds process material -- most people today would, in fact, rather watch a video than read an article, especially younger people, because their brains have evolved to process information more efficiently that way. But mine is rooted in the written word, for better or worse, and it's too late to rewire it now.
 

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