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The purpose of grammar is . . .

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The purpose of grammar is . . .

Old 15th Dec 2018, 12:21
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by treadigraph View Post
They were all great engineers but not many were really good with written English as they happily admitted.
Oh yes, there are plenty of those. I claim to be a competent engineer who can write English. Technical writing, that is, I can't do creative writing.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 12:40
  #42 (permalink)  

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"Almost always these days it is an indication of laziness - can't be arsed to use a spell checker, can't be arsed to proofread, can't be arsed to edit to correct errors, and so on. If someone can't be bothered to spell correctly that demonstrates that they don't really care very much about the opinion they're trying to convey, so I'm not likely to take very much notice of it. Particularly if the document in question is a job application - if they can't be arsed to write their job application properly am I really likely to employ them to do things that require detailed and meticulous attention or write things that have to impress customers??"

"But it does piss me off when some marketroid or some such does the same to technical text, replacing the precise technical terminology by woolly not-really-synonyms, so that the eventual technical reader of the text is left without much of a clue as to what you're wittering about. And guess what - he'll shrug, and buy from the other guys, who are capable of conveying technical information to a technical reader in a comprehensible form."

Gotta agree with Gertrude here.

The number of people who are able to write a decent English sentence seems to be diminishing rapidly.
In addition, English is an enormously versatile language and capable of great subtlety.
To reduce it to a simplified grammar means that you lose the ability to
convey delightful shades of meaning and impoverishes the language.

The same, rather sadly for French; who today knows how how to use the subjunctive properly, or even at all?

Reduces everything to baby-talk really.

Mac
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 12:57
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Mac the Knife View Post
The same, rather sadly for French; who today knows how how to use the subjunctive properly, or even at all?
That was A level territory in my day. At O level if we accidentally came across one we were told "oh, that's a subjunctive, you don't need to worry about that for O level".

The only use case I remember (some kid said it to me on a schools exchange) was "Qu'est-ce que tu veux que je fasse?".
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 13:25
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Gertrude the Wombat View Post
I claim to be a competent engineer who can write English.
IMHO you can't be considered a competent engineer unless you are capable of communicating in writing (in your chosen language, not necessarily English).
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 13:33
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
IMHO you can't be considered a competent engineer unless you are capable of communicating in writing (in your chosen language, not necessarily English).
There is that view, yes. But I've had engineers working for me who were good at building stuff, and could communicate within the team on a technical level, but were socially dysfunctional. Everything was fine so long as I managed to keep them away from too much early direct contact with customers; once they'd shown what they could deliver customers were less inclined to worry about whether so-and-so was an autistic nerd or not.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 13:45
  #46 (permalink)  
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In a moment of extreme boredom and incalculable folly, I once started to read a book on self-improvement by one L Ron Hubbard. In the first paragraph he suggested the reader use a dictionary to look up the meaning of any words they didn't understand - self-improvement eh? He then proceeded to use all sorts of long or obscure words painstakingly explained in footnotes, several on each page. It was so turgid I didn't bother to read beyond page two... no doubt it was actually linked to Scientology but I'd never heard of him then.

I love the late Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe novels. His use of English was superb, a real pleasure to read and very clever plots. New words to me mostly used in a context that made them readily understandable, no need for the dictionary! I believe he had been an English teacher. The TV series wasn't a patch on the books.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 17:27
  #47 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Mac the Knife View Post
The same, rather sadly for French; who today knows how how to use the subjunctive properly, or even at all?
The subjunctive mood is an interesting grammar item. It's often used if there is uncertain or negative or speculative or demanding tone in a clause. Although still prevalent in French, Spanish and German its use in English has decreased significantly over the years. Shakespeare wrote: 'If music be the food of love . . .' A modern author would likely prefer: 'If music is the food of love . . .' Today's rare examples might include 'if I were you . . .' but 'if I was you . . .' is nowadays becoming accepted. Occasionally you'll find the subjunctive when the word 'that' is used as a conjunction, such as: 'They demanded that she defer the vote until further notice.'

The point is that languages change as time goes by, with the dying out of the subjunctive mood in English language a typical example. Grammarians object to people saying 'should of' rather than 'should have' but the former construction might in the future become the norm (possibly as 'shood ov') through everyday usage. At school we would have our knuckles rapped if we dared to use 'so' as a conjunction. 'Write out 100 times, boy, "so" is NOT a conjunction.' But today . . . it's allowed.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 17:37
  #48 (permalink)  
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I must admit that, when I employ any of the the subjunctive moods in Castillian, the Mexicans cannot understand, the Porteños listen to me politely, sometimes responding in German, the Peruvian peasant continues to milk his llama while the citizen of the Iberian peninsula appears to regard me as a freak ejaculated from some Thespian sideshow. Would that it were not so, for how splendidly communicative might those moods be.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 17:39
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Discorde View Post
Although still prevalent in French, Spanish and German
And the Italians, bless them, have not only a subjunctive mood (which they use a lot), but also a conditional mood.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 18:44
  #50 (permalink)  
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It is not just technical language, in the engineering sense, where precise terms should be used.

I used to correspond with my ex-boss who had been posted to an HQ. Then our internal reorganisation required me to pass my work UP to my boss who would then pass it ACROSS to my 'real' boss at HQ.

My first draft was rejected as my boss didn't understand it. Duly rewritten it was pass across to my real boss who then complained he didn't know what I was talking about.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 18:48
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Only to end up with "but this is of no everyday practical use,
Quite handy if you are learning Russian though, or indeed any other inflected language, of which there are many.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 18:50
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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And then there's the optative.....
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 19:05
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by ex82watcher View Post
Even worse,'got given'.
And worse still; "got gifted".

Thank goodness Henry Fowler and his dreadful Modern English Usage has not been memtioned.

Last edited by Gipsy Queen; 16th Dec 2018 at 21:44.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 19:18
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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Hanging up in a Marconi design office,
'Last year I cudent spell enjineer, now I are one'
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 19:30
  #55 (permalink)  
 
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The same, rather sadly for French; who today knows how how to use the subjunctive properly, or even at all?
Every French person I've ever spoken to...? I have a British friend who speaks fluent French but doesn't use the subjunctive. It jars every time. "Il faut que je vais... [shudder]". On the other hand the past (imperfect) subjunctive is completely dead. You occasionally run across it in places like Le Monde. Most French people have to stop and think about it, or just plain don't know, for all but the most common verbs. "Il eut fallu que nous nous tussions".
The English subjunctive is alive and well here in the colonies, most people would say e.g. "I would rather you be here".
As for the OP... grammar is useful because it leads to a standard way of saying/writing things. There will always be enormous dialect variations in speech, get over it. "I done it" is normal in most parts of England, just as "aye" replaces "yes" in Scotland and (though less these days) northern England.
If you think English is bad, try German, or even worse, Russian. French irregular verbs are good for a laugh, too. Try Japanese - no plural, no gender, no subject-verb agreement, no cases, exactly two irregular verbs - a delightfully simple grammar. Of course the writing system more than makes up for that :-(
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 20:12
  #56 (permalink)  

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Hey-ho..Even Dr Johnson admitted that language changes.

But I find it very off-putting to be addressed as "Tu" by complete strangers these days.
Dans mon temps, "tu" was reserved for very close friends, "vous" for everyone else.
It would never have occurred to me to address my father as "tu"!
"Un homme ne tutoie que son chien ou sa maitresse", as he would say...

My German is even more old fashioned and people do find it amusing - "Du klingst wie mein Großvater!"

ancient Mac
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 20:39
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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#45
once they'd shown what they could deliver customers were less inclined to worry about whether so-and-so was an autistic nerd or not.
Bit harsh , calling autistic people nerds. ( I called the M in L a narrow minded, narcissistic , dominating old faggot. . .. . but never an autistic nerd.)
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 20:43
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
Bit harsh , calling autistic people nerds.
FTAOD I wasn't. They are orthogonal concepts. But I was talking about software engineers, so you can see the opportunity for the two to come together.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 22:46
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by n5296s View Post
........ Try Japanese - no plural, no gender, no subject-verb agreement, no cases, exactly two irregular verbs - a delightfully simple grammar. Of course the writing system more than makes up for that :-(
I have never tried counting but the above pretty much applies to Bahasa Indonesia / Melayu too; without the handicap of an arcane script.

P.S. I was going to start the above as "I have never counted..," but felt that it reflected too greatly on my self-worth.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 22:57
  #60 (permalink)  
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Dear prune readers this is a verbal text generation whereby I hope to sell the concept of talking to my phone without a single error in my text. (new line)
Wibble
It even spelled that correctly. I could have put an extra P in if I'd wanted.

How good is that?

Prior to which I said, OK Google. SpungeBob SquarePants. It then gave me a verbal of everything I was likely to want to know about that critter.
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