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By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/21/2009 11:54 PM

There have been rules for how to write that some of us have accepted, and others have challenged.

When I was younger I admired ee cummings poetry, but now think his craftsmanlike autobiography the Enormous Room, a greater work.

In the meantime the way he wrote without capitals, or punctuation, or even sensible spacings between the lines, seems the norm.

Even many great thinkers on CR4 are prone to using telegraphic letters like ROFLO, or LOL, or BTW.

In business communications I get emails that start out with "Hey".

When did it become unseemly to start even an email with, Dear Bill,?

When I was younger I knew when I was breaking a rule, but now that everybody does it all the time, I get confused, and feel like I'm breaking the rules when I write properly.

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#1

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 12:07 AM

Yup. I know what you mean. When I write freehand I use all caps because there is no thought to anything but putting my brains on paper. To communicate on this forum in all caps would be blasphemy!

I feel your pain.

Vic

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#2

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 12:56 AM

Keep writing properly, it does make a difference.

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#3

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 2:17 AM

If what you write conveys the message you want to send then you are successful.

Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter Thompson and Jim Morrison all wrote in very unconventional styles but I know just what they were talking about.

It's not the style or the medium that necessarily matter but the content, the message.

And yes, sloppy, blathering, misspelled crap annoys me too.

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#4

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 3:19 AM

The roots of the problem lie in the text messaging facility on the modern portable telephone. Users seem to forget about how to use business language appropriately and effectively.

Cheapness and value seem to go together, it seems.

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#22
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 11:50 PM

I think it goes back further back than that. I noticed the degradation in language skills, mostly in the US, fifteen and twenty years ago. I believe the decline stems more from message boards (BBS), emails, and other "hasty" mediums that didn't require a writing process. When you were required to get pen and paper or load paper into the typewriter, think about what you wanted to say before you wrote the first word, and write a draft because mistakes were a pain in the hind quarters. There was a commitment in that process that someone could take pride in.

Today there is no thought, no follow through, and no ownership of the language.

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#5

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 4:02 AM

"by what standards do we judge writing to be good?"

OUR personal standards. one man's literary treasure may be rubbish to another.

besides, language, like culture, is evolving into another form. some say it is uplifting itself, some say it is degrading. all these are subjective. all we know for a fact is that most of the accepted norms of yesterday are archaic today. I guess what is more important is to accept that we, as individuals have been shaped by our past. if we like what we see in the mirror every morning, there is no reason to stop doing what we believe are good, better and best. keep writing as you know best. it may seem awkward to some, but it will astonish the rest!

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#17
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 10:33 PM

"by what standards do we judge writing to be good?"

"OUR personal standards. one man's literary treasure may be rubbish to another."

GA . Personally I always thought that the people who criticized me for reading Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, H.P.Lovecraft and Stephen King instead of William Shakespeare and the Bronte sisters to be pretentious jerks . After all, it's all well and good if that's what they prefer, but what right do they have to dictate to others what constitutes a good story ?

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#38
In reply to #5

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 9:10 AM

Subjective my butt !

How would you write a letter to your parents ? And whats the kind of writing you expect from, let's say a dealer intersted in your money ?

You want to be treated with all respect, and you find it offensive when someone writes to you as if he had done with his hoofs.

Wouldn't you even try to correct your kids while they're (notice I wrote they're, not "their") learning to write?

How can be possible that even an stupid ignorant like me, who doesn't even speak a good english, find it disgusting to see what some "modern" writers are doing to Shakespeare's language ?.

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#47
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 11:20 AM

If you read your Strunk and White (the Elements of Style) you'll find that this battle between 'new' and 'old' language has been going on for a long time. In my copy (3rd ed) the fight is over the use of commercial and hip(ster) English. For example they rail against the phrase 'due to' as in "the wall collapsed due to poor construction", or the word 'contact' as in "make sure to contact everyone involved". I don't think many of us would now find these usages to be a problem. Language does change over time.

Their argument against hip languages is a little more sound. They make the point that such language is mostly short-lived. If you season your writing with terms like 'groovy' and 'like totally' you risk shortening the 'shelf life' of your work. This type of language is designed to hide your meaning from anyone who is not a member of the 'in crowd'.

I think the real point is to make sure that you have thought through what you want to say, and that your writing says exactly what you think. Make sure that there is no ambiguity in your wording. Make sure that you don't overstate your case - use qualifiers like "it seems that..." or "many people believe that...". This will help you avoid the shame of getting 'pwned' by your adversaries. Use your spell checker. Maybe the most important thing to keep in mind is to avoid inserting yourself into your writing. It is not so much who you are but what you have to say that is important.

It is also good to remember Winston Churchill's advice, that "Short words are the best and old words when short are best of all.

twenty-three skidoo y'all

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#51
In reply to #47

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 12:23 PM

Good post, up to "twenty-three skidoo y'all".

I guess I didn't see that movie...

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#54
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 1:08 PM

"twenty-three skidoo y'all" I guess that's just under two dozen southerners on jet skis.

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#6

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 7:16 AM

It came with text messaging. The youth of today cutting up the English language so that they can communicate faster on devices that have small one line screens. Though the screens have changed their abbreviations have stuck.

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#7

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 7:17 AM

I try to use the same standards I would use for a drawing. Grammar should not be wrong but can be "shortened" as in this sentence. BTW I use abbreviations that are commonly known, just as I would use UNC on a drawing. Spelling should be correct; there is a tool up there above.

If we, as engineers, technologists, and scientists, can't communicate what we mean, how will we get anything done?

As for texting, would any of us write a service bulletin in texttalk?

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 8:38 AM

Pardon my ignorance but, what is a UNC?

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#11
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 12:14 PM

Unified National Coarse, a thread series. Not something Reddy KiloWatt runs into often.

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#59
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 7:35 PM

It's also University of Northern Colorado, but you don't care about that. I have had to Google many acronyms on CR4. I really hate them when they come from managers at work, especially when the same thing gets a new one with different management.

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#25
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 3:16 AM

Yes, but!!, even abbreviations that seem obvious can be obscure for people from other (business) cultures. Certain companies have a culture of abbreviating "everything in sight" . For anyone new to the company or even people new to the department they might be completely foreign. Some times this will lead to complete miscommunication and the consequences related to it.

Personally, when I use abbreviations I always give a brief explanation of it in between brackets the first time I use it.

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#37
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 9:06 AM

Yeah, that's a good idea. I sometimes assume people are familiar with things when they're not.

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#39
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 9:21 AM

Absolutely on the abbreviations if one is from a different culture. I think of myself as competent in English and have no difficulties with "our abbreviations." but when I am researching say German specifications or Blueprints/Drawings written in German there are a host of Abbreviations that are "presumptive" and I didn't get the presumption. Three years of college German two dictionaries and my "Worterbuch der Industriellen Werkstofftechnik" Goetzel & Goetzel, (available via Hanser Gardner) are barely sufficient to keep me out of hot water.

So my German understanding is more like that of a second grade idiot savant- I know the field, but not the 'lingo,' and can be more or less trusted not to pee on the floor...

The advice to explain any abbreviations / acronyms with a parenthetical insert is both great and appreciated.

milo

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#42
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 10:02 AM

As a technical writer, I always include an abbreviation or acronym in parenthesis following the word or group of words used for the first time in a document. The abbreviation or acronym is then used alone throughout the document.

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#50
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 12:22 PM

As you may know, engineering firms have standards for abbreviations that have to be used in documents and on drawings. On drawings that are used for the government, acceptable abbreviations are spelled out in a mil spec document, mil std 12. The use of a non-standard abbreviation is ok as long as it is noted as an exception in a general note.

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#53
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 12:57 PM

Ron,

Thanks for the reference to mil std 12. Would you know where I could obtain an electronic copy that is not a document scan? A dot-doc (.Doc) would allow copying and pasting.

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#8

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 7:28 AM

By what standards?

Why the standards that we were brought up with of course.

To us 'more experienced' folks, the proper start of a communication is "Dear ____:"

To any of our millenial children, such formality is an incredible waste of time.

We conserve "manners" they conserve "time."

I remember my teachers' horror at my lack of penmanship as a sign the world was going to hell. This is a parallel to what you have observed in the actual "medium/message" means of writing.

Each generation develops a "norm" based on the tools that are available during their formative years.

In a world where one communicates with say 100 'peers' via electronic means in a morning or afternoon's time, (the world of my millenial son and daughters) typing "Dear Mr. So and So..." would be a huge waste of time.Times 100!

When we (I-Baby boomer) grew up, communicating via a documentary process to another might have happened once or twice a week... so there was no such 'lossy' impact. Some of us baby boomers have made the transition to less formality in email, but hold the line in not devoloving to text phone abbreviations. The millenials have no such artificial barriers and include text abbreviations as easily as they breathe. That is their "mother tongue." using todays technology.

So "What standards?" we judge by our standards, and these are derivative of our generational demographic and the technologies available for that generation.

Interesting question and observation, T.

milo

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#46
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 10:53 AM

I received a very good education at the hands of the Irish Christian Brothers while going to school in New York City in the 40's and 50's. Do you remember classes devoted to penmanship? I blame the demise of a beautiful writing style with the introduction of the ballpoint pen. That combined with spelling, grammar and punctuation, made for a well rounded person ready to face the world of equally educated people.

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#48
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 11:21 AM

You know, You point out that the change of technology to ball point pen was instrumental to the decline of handwriting. This is, I think, a valuable insight as to the unanticipated effects of new technology. I have mentioned something similar to this as well.

I did not have the affections of a christian brother with a stick to motivate my handwriting excercises, I went to public school where I was characterized as uncoordinated, and written off as unteachable (thank fully there was no ritalin in those days, or I'd have been forced to take it!) and tested for 'retarded' in third grade because of my poor motor skills.

Test results surprised a few people, I must say.

I do remember those writing exercises, and my failing marks on damn near all of them.

7th grade mechanical drawing- I finally learned to consistently and legibly block print, which has been my preferred method ever since if no keyboard is nearby.

I have managed to make a cool signature, through a lifetime of trying.

Thanks for pointing out the ballpoint's role in this whole affair.

milo

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#56
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 2:08 PM

I empathize with your plight. I had to take grade 5 twice.. didn't do so well in math. Having my father yelling at me taught me nothing about math, and a whole lot about "how not to teach". In college I did really well at math.. different teacher (female), different context, different approach. Students learn differently.

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#10

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 9:54 AM

Dear Transcendian,

I like following the rules, and like others to as well. I feel it is a sign of ignorance or laziness that people don't, although the ideas expressed are often cogent.

Aside from a parting or well-known acronym such as ROFL, I find text-messaging short-cut slang irritating. Besides, text-messaging is something for teenage girls, not grown men!

Endeavor to better your writing skills and people will understand you better; communication will improve.

Mike

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#12

Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 2:18 PM

Thanks Friends,

I was caused to think of it due to postings from two youths, and a question from a guy in India concerned with improving his English.

Some of my recent business emails made me think that I ought to go ahead and adopt the manner of writing that seemed prevalent, whether I liked it or not.

The truth is it was stressful for me to actually start an email, which for me is a business letter, with "Hey", instead of Dear.

In the course of my writing career, it is truly ironic. Ways of writing I gave up as inferior are now adopted as just fine, and I'm afraid of appearing as an out of it snot for working hard to have consistent good habits.

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#13
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 2:55 PM

Try one of these on for size; "Good day", "Good morning" "Hello (insert name)", or "Hi (insert name)". They are a bit informal but who says that all business has to be so formal.

If the recipient prefers being refereed to by their first name, (how did they sign their email?) you should be in the clear to use informal greetings and bodies of text. Then again, I'm an english language flunky!

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#14
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 6:19 PM

I like the Good Day. I'll try it out.

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#16
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 9:41 PM

Yes - it's my favorite too. Friendly and not a bit stuffy.

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#45
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 10:13 AM

I like "good day", but I don't use it because it sounds like I'm trying to imitate a down-under (Aussie) "Good Dai".

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#55
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 2:05 PM

"G'Day" has long been a standard in 'the Valley' (Ottawa River Valley) and surrounding region (Lanark County, Renfrew County). I grew up there and can attest. I also believe it is common to hear it from those hailing from Canada's Eastern provinces. (especially NFLD)

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#15
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/22/2009 9:32 PM

Interesting thing is that in most of Asia (definitely Malaysia, China, Korea and Japan)nearly all business emails start with Dear ****.

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#43
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Re: By What Standards do We Judge Writing To be Good?

06/23/2009 10:10 AM

I think the use of the word "dear" in a written communication is thought of by some as too feminine or intimate in a business letter.

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#18

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/22/2009 11:01 PM

When the day comes upon which good manners are obsolete - then PLEASE - PULLEEZE - just leave me behind. If we do not respect each other - then we are without hope....hope to receive respect in our turn, in a world that is apparently populated by advocates of win/lose relationships (rather than win/win).

Personally, I am happy to read even semi-literate ramblings of almost any ilk, so long as they are not an INSULT broadcast either specifically or generally. There is so much to share that we mustn't be TOO particular about grammar - bearing in mind that grammar is not well-taught everywhere.

now -as for spelling -- there are no excuses :) either you are bright or you are not!

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#19

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/22/2009 11:01 PM

Short of a letter from family or friends, I've never felt that "Dear (name)" is an appropriate opening... It is very disconcerting when followed by notice of lawsuit or IRS.

It is sad to see the degradation and loss of eloquence in the use of written language.

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#20

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/22/2009 11:31 PM

Formal writing is still important today, but there is plenty of room for a more relaxed style of writing, however you really need to ensure that don't get too carried away in your writing that you cause confusion or misinterpretation to the target audience of said writing.

As an example, I got into trouble when writing an open post on a CR4 thread to an Australian, my comments directed to him were appropriate but in the context that both I and he knew what we were talking about. However there were plenty of others reading the post on CR4 and one person misinterpreted what we were saying thinking that I had insulted him.

The new style of "texting" format of writing is an absolute disaster and is NOT appropriate anywhere in business. The confusion it creates is just too high.

Computer jargon (LOL - Laughing Out Loud) and emoticons (ASCI and picture) are fine in many cases, but still NOT in most business emails or correspondence (there are exceptions for some types more personal business emails).

Proper punctuation, sentence structure and spelling are still VERY important as a great deal of confusion can arise when dealing with technical writing (or writing in general), especially if the writing is not in the first language of the reader.

As for "Dear Bill", I prefer "Hello Bill" (a good balance between formal and informal, and times have changed making this writing start less appropriate).

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#21

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/22/2009 11:39 PM

Writing is an attempt to connect with a particular audience, so abbreviations, acronyms, slang and unusual styles can all work, but a style suitable for a technically minded, city dwelling, book reading hip, Uni student may not work as well for a 60y.o. ossified, small town bank manager.

Using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation helps to reach the largest audience.

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#23

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 12:41 AM

Dear Bill,

Provided I can get through my emails, letters and other written messages without a host of typos, I feel as if I have done a great thing for all humanity. Most often I receive written contact without neither salutation, nor a proper closing.

Personally, I blame this on the liberal Democrats and other communist organizations, but that's who gets most of the blame for all bad things in my book.

Sincerely,

JL Mealer
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#32
In reply to #23

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 6:49 AM

Dear Mr. (or Mrs., or Miss) Mealer,

Is it Communist Infiltration that taught you to use a double negative: "...without neither salutation, nor a proper closing."

Yours truly,

dovy

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#35
In reply to #32

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 8:10 AM

Back in the old days I was always concerned how to address a lady... uhm or woman.

Miss., Mrs., or Ms. what did Ms. stand for anyway, and why was I so worried?

oh well... nowdays I can just greet by saying "Hey Girlfriend".....

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#40
In reply to #32

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 9:23 AM

I can't believe it !

You started "Is it..." but didn't finish with a question mark, shame on you and that one who gave you a "GA", and for your information, "neither... nor" are used together just like "while... whend" in a source code.

Yahlasit

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#41
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 9:50 AM

You're right on the question mark. I love the Spanish way of also starting the question with '¿' (upside-down question mark, in case it doesn't show correctly on some browsers). Ditto for '¡exclamation!'

The double negative problem wasn't 'neither-nor'; it was 'without neither...'. (Should be 'with neither...', or something else like 'using neither...'.

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#52
In reply to #40

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 12:40 PM

Dear Yahlasit (and/or guest),

1. The loop you mention is 'while...wend', not 'whend'.

2. 'Without'...'neither'...'nor' is a double negative.

3. Rhetorical questions may end without a question mark.

Yours truly,

dovy

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#71
In reply to #52

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 2:46 PM

...

From Whence it came...

Neither is used with nor in any sentence, and

Either is used with or in any sentence...

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#77
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 6:37 PM

Again, as I said in post 41:

"The double negative problem wasn't 'neither-nor'; it was 'without neither...'. (Should be 'with neither...', or something else like 'using neither...'."

Dick

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#91
In reply to #77

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 12:14 PM

'without neither...'

Not to be a grammar nerd, but the problem here is obvious - 'without' is a negative, and used with 'neither' and 'nor' it creates a double negative, which is acceptable in mathematics but not in English.

0-02-418200-1. 3rd ed. New York: MacMillian, 1979

The Elements of Style (3rd Edition)- William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White page 53

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#92
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 12:47 PM

Exactly what I was implying.

It's good that you specified "in English".

In Spanish, and surely in some other languages, negatives are treated quite differently than in correct English, so we have to be understanding when the author's first language is not English. The Spanish "¡No hagas nada!", translated literally, means "Don't do nothing!", but the correct translation is "Don't do anything!". Similarly, "Come no más." translates literally to "Eat no more.", but the real meaning is "Go ahead and eat."

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#94
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 8:56 PM

Too true - in Afrikaans for instance the double negative is mandatory in many cases.

"Moet nie doen nie" - translated literally means "Must not do not".

I wonder how often I heard those words as a kid?

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#67
In reply to #32

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 2:20 PM

Salutations My Dear Mister, Missus, Ms, Officer or Esquire Dovy,

Past and present discovery proves that all but a pittance of time and effort be spent delving into such matters as the true cause of our diverse and unrelenting digression of both language and action.

However, one would conclude through proper abstinance of such foul leanings towards the leftward spiraling of this society from whenforth our great American nation was birthed by refuting the socialist, marxist options. We are within our right to forcefully choose to recover from our dire straights at any cost.

Lest this not be confused with Mark Knopfler's thoughts of "Money for Nothing and Our Chicks for Free"... But please, DO ponder the connotations as it may very well uplift both the spirit and the drive to succeed in all you do.

Always keep in mind the truth of a great orator who speaks such eloquence through someone else's scripted words.

Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1735

Good day, good luck and grand adventures, my friend.

JL Mealer

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#68
In reply to #67

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 2:37 PM

Thanks...

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#70
In reply to #67

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 2:45 PM

Sure is a mouthful! Where on earth did you ever learn such a vocabulary as well as the eloquent way to put it all together. Sure wasn't any of the schools I attended!

Well done..............well done,

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#64
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 11:25 AM

Dear Mr. Mealer,

Given the ineptitude, both grammatical and otherwise (i.e. foreign policy, economics etc...) of the most recent Republican administration I do not think I would bring politics into the argument.

Sincerely,

A Liberal Democrat

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#69
In reply to #64

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 2:42 PM

Right leaning is American values, whereby left-leaning is European values.

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#72
In reply to #69

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 3:03 PM

Welcome JLMEALER:

oh good just what we need another spouter of righest propaganda....

The bias is towards corporate which owns the media & most of the government.

The rights of organizations have been elevated to equal if not supercede individuals, after all Money equals free speech.

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#74
In reply to #72

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 3:38 PM

Garthh...

I believe in us as individuals first and foremost. Corporations are secondary when it come to rights, but the man or woman who signed on the line is still the one responsible for their corporation.

The media is owned by special interest groups and run (this time) for the government's need to confuse and educate people in the ways of what us as individuals would normally see as evil and anti-American.

I am one of theose people who is willing to die to defend YOUR liberal rights over the rights of any corporate entity or oppressive government. I wish more people would believe the same way... Whether calling themselves right or left.

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#76
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 6:32 PM

Corporations are secondary when it come to rights

if only that were true: http://www.reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/

& you throw out the usual nonsense about liberal media bias, but try to spin it as "special interest groups" The only special interest Rupert Murdoch represents is himself. NBC is owned by GE...

You try to label me as liberal, any evidence of that?

We need proportional representation to break the stranglehold corporations have on our lives & government!

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#75
In reply to #72

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 6:05 PM

GA and thanks.

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#80
In reply to #69

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 9:28 PM

Soooooooo off topic...

But, why don't we just stop all of the 'leaning' (posturing) so the boat can be righted and we can stop bailing? The only way anything seems to get done is via the moderates who are really listening to the people they are supposed to represent.

The extreme left and extreme right always have allot to say but seldom have any real solutions. To believe that either the democratic or republican parties have the best intentions for their constituents at heart is just a load of propaganda. All you have to do is tune in to C-Span for a few days to watch them posture and fight like school kids on a playground who haven't learned how to get along or share their toys.

It's amazing to me how anything other than naming post offices or giving out awards gets accomplished. Although, I would have to say that, most of what is 'accomplished' is just knee-jerk without much thought to future consequences.

So, give me the middle ground! I believe that is where our 'core values' truly lie and where the founding framers intended they be found.

Extremists are mostly despots and wanna-be dictators who have decided that its got to be their way or no way. Lunatics ALL!!!

Whew! Guess that's my dimes worth for what it's worth.

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#82
In reply to #80

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 10:01 PM

snygolfs,

Well said, both on your politics and that this has gotten way off topic. I just wish I could give you a combined GA/OT. (gee thats so close to "goat")

If this political posturing does wish to continue, I vote that another thread be started. There liberal, conservative, populist, libertarian, and moderates can joyously discuss why their perspective should get a turn in running a government.

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#83
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 10:53 PM

redfred,

Thanks. A 'goat' is good. I could use the milk.

I'm not sure if a political thread would be such a good thing here. Although there has been some political banter included in other threads on CR4 I think a thread just for discussion of political views would probably lead to much carnage.

I see that I have a 6th OT vote. I wonder what the record is for OT votes here? Maybe I can set a new record...?

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#85
In reply to #83

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 11:17 PM

I tryed it a while back, mixed success.

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/14144#comment233962

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#88
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 12:33 AM

Thank you for the link.

I was just there reading many of the posts. Much more civil and enlightening than I would have expected. It was also well monitored by you with many good questions for thought at the right times.

But then again, I should have known better than to doubt that here. It's one of the main reasons why I enjoy reading through all of the threads of interest. Even the 'highly spirited' discussions usually give food for thought whether I agree or not.

I'm just thankful that we have this freedom.

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#84
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 11:09 PM

I want to give you a GOAT for your tagline!! that so funny!

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#93
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 6:31 PM

European left leaning? as Robespierre would say "off with their heads!"

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#96
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/28/2009 12:12 PM

I think Hitler would have argued with that....

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#101
In reply to #69

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

10/25/2009 1:34 AM

I'm afraid you have this backwards.

1. The Nazis were (and are) at the far right, and were (and are) predominately European.

2. America was founded on the principal of separation of church and state, but conservatives have tried to force school children to endure prayers, to dilute science education with "creationist" dogma, and have tried to impose a narrow, anti-American hate mongering agenda against gays under the guise of "family values."

3. Liberal values favor "the little guy" and "independence" rather than royalty and the ultra rich, which are favored by conservatives. Liberal tax law favors families making $200,000 and less, while conservative tax law favors those making $500,000 and more.

4. Perhaps the singular most important American value is equal rights for all Americans. Liberals have fought for (and conservatives have fought against): emancipation of slaves, voting rights for women, voting rights for all races, equal pay for equal work, equal access to college education, the right of women to have control their bodies, the rights of gays to marry or join the military without having to hide their gender, freedom from oppression by a single fundamentalist religious view.

The Taliban is a conservative group, with solid fundamentalist religous values. Many of us do not think of the Taliban as supporting American values.

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#24

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 12:41 AM

In a forum like CR4, where people come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, I find it especially important to use correct spelling and grammar. It is difficult enough to understand technical directions in your own language; when you must use a second or third language, it sometimes becomes almost impossible to communicate without misunderstanding.

I get the impression that many people consider 'Preview Comment' an impediment to getting their words out as fast as possible, rather than an opportunity to re-read what they have just written, to be sure it communicates the intended message. I rarely press the 'Submit' button the first time I preview my comment. If it isn't worth re-reading, then it probably wasn't worth reading the first time...

Acronyms should always be spelled out, at least the first time they are used in a given post. If the acronym is used to avoid the use of vulgar words, then the acronym shouldn't be used at all! Acronyms are an open invitation to misunderstanding. English is my first language, but I have trouble with many acronyms. In this set of posts, someone said that LOL meant 'Laughing Out Loud'. I always thought it meant 'Lots of Luck'. I believe it was the same poster who referred to ROFL - I have no idea what that means. So often we assume that everyone else knows the same things we know, and it's just not so!

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 4:11 AM

CRIMINAL

LOL is normally 'Laughing Out Loud'

ROFL is normally "Rolling On the Floor Laughing"

and PMSL is normally "Pissing Myself Laughing"

LMAO is normally "Laughing My Arse Off"

Using these acronyms seems just about OK (alright), but, I desperately wish people would avoid TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for technical content. On this forum especially people from fields outside the field in question are often able to help, but, are frequently excluded because of industry or culturally specific acronyms. I (and I'm sure others) also learn a lot on this forum by reading the questions and answers; again: acronyms just get in the way.

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#26

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 3:30 AM

BTW, what LOL and ROFLO mean???

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 3:51 AM

you can find all your answers here.

Chris

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#28
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 4:02 AM

LOL - laughing out loud

ROFL - rolling on floor laughing (ROFLO?)

you must be kidding (YMBK) cheers!

google "Internet acronyms" for more.

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#30
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 5:28 AM

Thanks Langyaw (and Chrisg288 too)...

I saw the "ROFLO" from the Transcendian's initial... Obviously is "ROFL"...

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#31

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 6:06 AM

keep it simple and understandable, big words are for people with small minds

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#33

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 7:32 AM

I believe this post from user 'plan' was intended as a reply for this thread.

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/39522/By-What-Standards-Do-We-Judge-Writing-To-Be-Good

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#34

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 7:53 AM

As I had stated in an earlier post, "I'm a english language flunky" which actually got a GA (good answer). I must agree with others who find the Preview Button a necessity. Rarely do I post without making corrections. I would like to go one-step further and state that the Spell Checker is a God-send and the thesaurus equally valuable. I wish that there was a way to automatically check punctuation as well.

I have enjoyed reading this thread because I have discovered that I am not alone in thinking that I am an illiterate because of my poor grades in school. I hope that this thread does not die out too soon as it is good-reading.

Regards

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#36

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 9:04 AM

If be hard whenn if some caN tell yuo can make somethig big and whnevre yuo do'nt canot be verry tell not. SOME peeple no undrestad thees much and can verry immagery anothon'es cawses to brake doun and stop. No if but can re ad yore saying yuo can becume bedder then HE and so tell evryone so weall can geth alonng. Thees what teche comunicate all about whne childs lern to do like there madre and padres do somone bedder STOP it - NOW!

very well then.

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#44

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 10:13 AM

People (at least Americans), always want to do things faster for reasons that remain unknown to me. Once we got past letter writing and could communicate with others in writing basically instantaneously, the only way to get faster was to truncate the language. In addition, it became a lot easier to communicate through writing and therefore the formality dropped off quite a bit.

On business emails, I will always start with just the person's name and a dash so it will look like:

Bill -

The computer definitely made written communication less formal and I believe has become a major crutch for a lot of grammar/spelling challenged people. I am pretty decent at spelling as I came up through grade school before the computer had taken over everything but I rely heavily on Word for passive voice checking and other more abstract grammar qualities.

What I find interesting is the gap between different generations and their use of the computer. There are people at my office that are amazed that I can type somewhere around 60 WPM (words per minute) and that I use the "home row" and other techniques to type. They are older than me and never really learned how to type. Then there are people younger than me that type on their 9 button phone very quickly where I don't do it at all.

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#49

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 11:36 AM

Greetings To One and All;

Like most things in life, accurate unambiguous writing has its advantages and disadvantages. While anyone in a technical career should always eschew obfuscation, the use of precise yet arcane terms will frequently lead to confusion by the receiver. Fore one should remember the goal of writing is to gather and form ideas in a method understood by others. Repetitive, or redundant explanations of concepts can both provide emphasis and clarification to a larger group of individuals with multiple levels of understanding of the English language. My writing fails if you don't understand me.

This leads to one of the drawbacks though of a well crafted written opinion in our technical fields. A precise posting that misunderstands the topic accurately reveals the lack of knowledge of an author. This can inadvertently invite ridicule on our forum from those of us who happen to be a little pissed that day. While the less precise, flowery use of buzz words, undefined acronyms and other colorful metaphors to describe a wrong opinion will frequently mask the error of an author's original concept. Frequently this will draw out more knowledgeable people to the discussion with minimal repercussion to the colorful author.

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#60
In reply to #49

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 8:52 PM

While anyone in a technical career should always eschew obfuscation, the use of precise yet arcane terms will frequently lead to confusion by the receiver.

Could this mean - Technical people should avoid confusion. The use of words known by only a few will often confuse the listener.

Could the term "eschew obfuscation" not possibly be "arcane".

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#61
In reply to #60

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 9:42 PM

Actually eschew means avoid and obfuscation mean confuse.

I only started this so I'd find out what ROFL stood for without asking.

Actually we around here do like to confuse some Guests, who have some obvious spirit that is negative, in hopes they will go away.

DBAS. Don't Be a Snot.

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#62
In reply to #61

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 11:55 PM

Hi Trans,

You've asked a very good question. As others have pointed out it's all about the context. I usually don't bother w/the [with the] formalities after the initial email. Do the subsequent replies require minding of the P's & Q's [I don't actually know what these stand for & I don't suppose the meaning is universal]?

Wouldn't the computer [word processor] actually improve writing skills? The ease of editing, has certainly helped me. My handwriting was described as arthritic chicken scratch by my 7th grade litrature teacher. I can print somewhat legibly if I take my time.

The telegraph is probably the origin of messaging. Bandwdth was much more expensive. Brevity =s[equals] economy.

This thread has an incredible #[number] of good answers.

Garthh

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#63
In reply to #61

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 1:16 AM

Actually eschew means avoid and obfuscation mean confuse.

Did you read post 60? Is that not exactly what is said?

If simplifying a sentence to make a point is considered "snotty" then so be it, but I do suggest that you read the post again and try to understand it.

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#73
In reply to #63

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 3:09 PM

Don't be supercilious. It is annoying.

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#79
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 9:05 PM

Pot - Kettle?

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#65
In reply to #60

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 11:48 AM

Could the term "eschew obfuscation" not possibly be "arcane".

Well of course it's arcane. At the same time, this part of my writing is accurate. That is my point. Duh!

I'm surprised nobody noticed my deliberate misuse of a common word though. Well at least we can all see that Tiger Woods can be mortal in his game.

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#57

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 2:30 PM

Great Question Transcendian!! (rating thread 5star)

In my opinion, there really is only one rule: Write for your intended audience!

If you are texting with your homies on your 9 button phone, all the acronyms and contractions you are sharing will suffice.

If you are creating financial reports for the board of directors, some more polished language is appropriate.

If you are writing mystery fiction, there are styles and conventions that have come to be expected by the readers of that genre.

If you are writing poetry, most aficionado's of poetry will understand your phrasing, tempo and inference, from your first stanza.

If you are blogging, most of your readers will be somewhat familiar with your subject, and may even choose to read your blog, based on your style and expressionism.

If you are writing for CR4, I think some attempt to write clearly, in plain english, with proper technical conventions, will gain you more respect and readership. (and GA votes) It is important to remember the great diversity of readership that participates in CR4.

If you are writing screenplays and scripts, there is a whole different paradigm for expressing the visual descriptively in words, to set the scene with color, tone, and scale. I'm sure there some definite conventions, contractions, and conventions that apply to every genre.

I think it is very important for any author, no matter what genre they are writing for, to apply the Golden Rule, and communicate in the style and convention of the intended reader. If the author has a diverse readership, then the success of the writing will be relative to its lingual accessibility. Plain language is best for wider appeal.

I am also a drafter, and learned early on, that conventions apply to the graphical as well as the written. Engineers and Scientists all have distinct conventions and styles, when dealing with their particular specializations, specifications, and publications.

The writer will also have a very difficult time writing, if they are not considering their audience. This is really the chief cause of writer's block, and comparatively, why it is so easy to write on CR4.

All of this presumes that the author has sufficient training and knowledge of the language and conventions of their chosen genre. It is helpful for every aspiring author to spend some time editing the works of others. This educates one on the various quality principles of clear targeted writing.

Chris

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#58
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/23/2009 2:49 PM

YUP

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#66
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 12:11 PM

ga from me

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#78
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 8:53 PM

So clearly stated! and so true! Are you a "crossover" with 'other' interests, i.e Nevil Shute(Norway) engineer and writer?

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#81
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 9:39 PM

Technologist and Writer and generalist.

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#87
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 12:13 AM

Round The Bend

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#86
In reply to #57

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/24/2009 11:58 PM

In my opinion, there really is only one rule: Write for your intended audience!

How true! and a GA to you and to others here.

I'm from the 'old school' when it comes to writing, although I've gotten used to using some occasional internet acronyms especially while using IM (instant messaging) and even shortening-up some sentences (tongue securely stuck to cheek). The only thing close to the internet while I was growing up was dial-up tele-type with the big rolls of yellow paper punch tape, (those were the days ).

I am somewhat saddened by the loss of respect for a writer's audience that seems to be prevalent in our modern times. Is proper writing etiquette even taught in our schools today? It doesn't seem so.

There is nothing, (well almost nothing), that warms me as much as reading a well written and properly choreographed/syntaxed letter, article, book or even a technical/scientific paper. When I see this type of work it says two (2) things to me:

1) The writer has enough self-image/self respect to take the time to make sure it is done properly, and;

2) The writer has enough respect for me (his/her audience) to take that extra time to make sure it is presented properly.

Respect breeds respect. It's a two-way street.

Yours respectfully,

Jeff

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#89
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 12:04 PM

Thank you.

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#90
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/25/2009 12:11 PM

In a recent search, I came across this site, which has a ton of 'how to' for script writer, and especially this video of script writing. It is very good at teaching writers the finer points of script writing (for your intended audience.. ie. "write out all numbers because actors get confused by numbers") Another page I enjoyed was this one. If you are into this stuff, its well worth poking around this site.

Chris

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#95

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/28/2009 10:03 AM

Transcendian,

I agree with you completely. I try to be as well written as possible, unless I am intentionally "goofing around", but I see this every day.

I have 3 children, ages 6,12 and 16, and I look over their shoulders as they do homework from time to time and am shocked by what I see. When I've brought it up to them I have been told that "that's what the teacher asked for". I have spoken with teachers in both the high school and primary school and was surprised to learn that grammar and punctuation only count in exams concerning those practices but is not usually a factor in every day teaching or homework.

I still correct my children and am teaching my 6 year old the correct way from the start. They need to understand that "everyone else does it" and "the teacher doesn't care" don't make it right. (OH GOD, I SOUND LIKE MY PARENTS!)

I feel that many teachers today are more concerned with the " NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND " rules than they are with teaching.These laws need to be less threatening to educators to force the advancement of students at any cost and more concerned with the education of our children.

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#98
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/28/2009 12:55 PM

"I have spoken with teachers in both the high school and primary school and was surprised to learn that grammar and punctuation only count in exams concerning those practices but is not usually a factor in every day teaching or homework."

As a retired teacher (of physics etc.), I find this disgusting and alarming! On the other hand, I guess its just one of many things confirming that I'm now officially an OF! (insert your own preferred words for the letters.)

I don't believe this bodes well for the long term greatness of the USA...

Keep up your good work!

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#99
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Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/28/2009 10:10 PM

Pretty weird isn't it that professional teachers wouldn't recognize that it was important to inculcate good habits.

As an example, you wouldn't tell an electrician, "When the circuit is dead, just do it in any order, anyway you feel like."

- I one time undid a live tie-in that I thought was dead, and realized when done, it was live, and only my habits protected me.

Of course normally I would have metered everything regardless, but a friend of mine had borrowed my meter, put it in a bucket that went into water, and stepped on it.

When the kids watch movies they see scenes where characters say things that save their lives.

Possibly we need to let them know that a misspelled word, or a badly crafted sentence could mean the difference between a good job, and digging ditches.

P.S. I have been complimented on occasion for some very fine ditches I dug.

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#100
In reply to #95

Re: By What Standards Do We Judge Writing To Be Good?

06/29/2009 4:32 AM

I empathize.

unless some "literary revival" were to happen to the English language, or any language for that matter, such important (to baby boomers, at least) nuances in our own languages will be lost forever. 2 of my 4 children are already working, and while we can communicate in Cebuano without any confusion, some words they use, are actually corruptions of the language.

what does this mean? it means that if these 2 kids were teachers, language teachers (thank God, they're not), what would they be imparting to their students? partly-corrupted language! and the law of entropy tells us this will only get worse.

the point of my post and reply to 'not so smart' is that perhaps we need to support movements, non-government organizations (NGOs) or GOs, whose mission is to preserve our languages, and treat them as national treasures that not only should be preserved, but propagated.

I realize this post raises a new question, "which version of the language should be preserve?" at that, I am stumped.

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