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Old 04-23-2012, 05:53 PM   #61
VydorScope
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Stickybuns? Coffee? Cake?
All this grammar talk is making me hungry.
Let's eat ApK! or Let's eat, ApK!
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:04 PM   #62
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Let's eat ApK! or Let's eat, ApK!
. Eats, shoots and leaves!
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:10 PM   #63
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Let's eat ApK! or Let's eat, ApK!
Good grammar saves lives!
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:20 PM   #64
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Let's imagine a writer going through a multi draft editing process. On the first draft, she writes, "I like coffee. I don't like cake." Each of these sentences is grammatically correct on its own; however, the space in-between the sentences is a cavern of lost potential meaning. What is the relationship between the coffee and the cake?
And sometimes coffee is just coffee, and cake just cake. Whether you join the clauses or not is more a question of how choppy you want your writing to be. This isn't Dune and we aren't speaking Imperial Galach. There's no reason to try to read for that level of nuance in someone's writing.

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:45 PM   #65
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You are, all of you, forgetting something very important about grammar: That it is about a lot more than the nitpicky details. Grammar is what makes words make sense once they have been made into sentences. It dictates what comes first, middle, and last, in a sentence. It tells us how many objects a subjects refers to. It is how you know whether the action I'm telling you about happens now, happened in the past, or will happen in the future.

In the example that came up earlier ("Let's eat, grandpa" and "let's eat grandpa") we know that those two sentences have a different meaning only because we know the grammatical rules that tell us that.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's impossible to get your message across if you're not fluent in the grammatical rules of the language you have chosen to write in.

Or, as my old English teacher used to say, grammar is the difference between knowing your s---, and knowing you're s---.

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Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
And sometimes coffee is just coffee, and cake just cake. Whether you join the clauses or not is more a question of how choppy you want your writing to be. This isn't Dune and we aren't speaking Imperial Galach. There's no reason to try to read for that level of nuance in someone's writing.
No, but that is only one sentence out of many. If the person saying "I like coffee. I don't like cake." normally speaks in long flowering sentences akin to a Jane Austen novel, then the sudden change in sentence structure can be used by the writer to subtly accentuate what they are trying to say in that particular paragraph. The person may be very tired, or may be upset at something.

The ability to use the rules of grammar to accentuate and emphasize, as well as ensure that the right message goes through, makes a good writer a better writer.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:45 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
And sometimes coffee is just coffee, and cake just cake. Whether you join the clauses or not is more a question of how choppy you want your writing to be. This isn't Dune and we aren't speaking Imperial Galach. There's no reason to try to read for that level of nuance in someone's writing.
you'd think a snarky snark would recognize snark.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:55 PM   #67
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Good grammar along with good spelling are simply tools, with some written work it is absolutely essential yet with others it's not. Legibility and understanding the meaning of what is written is the most important part of any piece work, if you do that you are onto a winner in my book as all too often self appointed grammar police can't wait to rip someones work apart yet never read it or enjoy it's message. Look back far enough to see where language came from and how it evolved, there is little to get excited about grammar. Good communication and understanding is more important than grammatical correctness. From what I have read even some of the best get it wrong so why ruin a good read trying too hard to make it perfect. So in answer to OP...No it's not essential but the prospect of the other extreme is probably harder to endure.
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:24 PM   #68
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And I think that, you, Stitchawl, are just playing the devil's advocate here to get a good discussion going. And it worked.
No, Betty. I actually do believe that people all too often pay more attention to the grammar and spelling than to the content. Look how many here have said that when they see a mistake will either get turned off to what is being said, or become 'copy editor' and try to fix it, at that point completely ignoring the content because of the mistakes.

Case in point, I had a friend who owned a large Recreational Vehicle company. I was helping him out for a few months during 'High Season,' and due to injury of his shop foreman, we needed a new good, well trained mechanic. We took dozens of resumes, but none of them contained the qualifications needed for that job.

Then one fellow presented a CV that was nothing less than fantastic! I checked all the references and he received glowing reports from every past employer and training school. The fellow was a married, down-to-earth church goer, with no bad habits, AND he was a Top Mechanic! Unfortunately, he couldn't spell and his grammar was terrible. My friend got so hung up in correcting the resume for spelling and grammar errors, that he paid no attention at all to the fact that for this particular job, the fellow was perfectly suitable. Granted, had he been applying for a job as a copywriter there would be no question that he should NOT get the job. But for someone who crawls under an RV and adjusts the breaks, ending his written sentences with a preposition should NOT have made a difference.

Unfortunately, the owner of the shop was one of the people who get caught up in the form and not in the content. He lost out on getting a model employee who could do the needed work simply because he paid more attention to spelling and grammar rather than content.

So, no... I wasn't playing Devil's Advocate. I believe that there is a need to teach students the proper basics, but then too, there is a need to look beyond them as well.


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Old 04-23-2012, 08:50 PM   #69
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Unfortunately, he couldn't spell and his grammar was terrible. My friend got so hung up in correcting the resume for spelling and grammar errors, that he paid no attention at all to the fact that for this particular job, the fellow was perfectly suitable. Granted, had he been applying for a job as a copywriter there would be no question that he should NOT get the job. But for someone who crawls under an RV and adjusts the breaks, ending his written sentences with a preposition should NOT have made a difference.

Stitchawl

I tend to agree with you that content matters more then grammar, BUT this is exactly one of the cases where grammar matters A LOT. If there is one or 2 mistakes in a CV, I can ignore that, but if it really is bad it tells me something very important about the person.. they do not care enough about me, my company, or the job to present their best. *MY* CV's would look like that, but I use MS Word, my wife, and others to clean it up before sending it in to an employer.

As an employer I care more about the person's attitude about work then their skill set. Skills can be taught, work ethic not so much. If that CV was as bad as I think you are making it sound, I would have tossed it without spending any time on it.

Of course I hire people into potions were details matter. So that may prejudice my view.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:46 PM   #70
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I tend to agree with you that content matters more then grammar, BUT this is exactly one of the cases where grammar matters A LOT. If there is one or 2 mistakes in a CV, I can ignore that, but if it really is bad it tells me something very important about the person.. they do not care enough about me, my company, or the job to present their best. *MY* CV's would look like that, but I use MS Word, my wife, and others to clean it up before sending it in to an employer.

As an employer I care more about the person's attitude about work then their skill set. Skills can be taught, work ethic not so much. If that CV was as bad as I think you are making it sound, I would have tossed it without spending any time on it.

Of course I hire people into potions were details matter. So that may prejudice my view.

OK... in this case, if you were the owner of the RV place and looking for a Top mechanic, found one with top references for all the skills needed and more, but didn't have the schooling or academic training to write a good CV, would YOU have turned him down?



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Old 04-23-2012, 09:49 PM   #71
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OK... in this case, if you were the owner of the RV place and looking for a Top mechanic, found one with top references for all the skills needed and more, but didn't have the schooling or academic training to write a good CV, would YOU have turned him down?
Stitchawl

Problem is I likely would not have gotten that far to check said references. Again it depends how bad it really was. I do not except a mechanic to be an English major, but I do expect him to care enough to try, and to seek help.
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:28 PM   #72
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No, Betty. I actually do believe that people all too often pay more attention to the grammar and spelling than to the content. Look how many here have said that when they see a mistake will either get turned off to what is being said, or become 'copy editor' and try to fix it, at that point completely ignoring the content because of the mistakes.[...]
I agree that sometimes people do seem to place an undue importance on the subtleties of grammar, things that vary according to taste, or may simply be minor typos where the actual intention is obvious. People keep coming up with the "Let's eat Grandpa" example, but it's much rarer to find examples of where it's vs its, or who's vs whose are particularly ambiguous - the intention is generally pretty clear from the context (and so too, usually, is the matter of eating Grandpa).

BUT, context matters. I don't expect perfect grammar from someone whose job is not specialised in communication. I generally do want at least passable grammar from those that I expect to write reports or letters etc., and I do need at least comprehensible communication between all staff etc. I do, however, expect very good grammar from those who specialise in communication - and that includes writers.

A few mistakes will happen. I know that I regularly get my "its" and "it's" wrong (among other things), not because I don't know any better, just because my fingers get it wrong while I'm typing and I haven't stopped to think about it. I try to get back to fix them up ... but some will inevitably get through.

I suspect that one of the reasons why people sometimes appear to pick on grammar in particular, when reading a book that they are not enjoying, is that it is something tangibly wrong that they can identify: "Look, the sod can't even get his pronouns right! That obviously explains why this book is such drivel." Whereas, in fact, the problems are often more subtle than the obvious mistakes in grammar; the mistakes are a symptom rather than a full diagnosis.

I think that ScaleyFreak puts it very well: "The ability to use the rules of grammar to accentuate and emphasize, as well as ensure that the right message goes through, makes a good writer a better writer."

Actual mistakes in grammar are not, of themselves, necessarily a problem. However too many mistakes suggest a lack of knowledge which, in a writer, suggests they don't know how to use their tools - the words on the page. A few mistakes will, hopefully, go unnoticed when the writer gets the rest of it right, but all the mistakes will become obvious when they add up to the writer getting the sum-total wrong.

Last edited by gmw; 04-23-2012 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:41 PM   #73
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You are, all of you, forgetting something very important about grammar: That it is about a lot more than the nitpicky details. Grammar is what makes words make sense once they have been made into sentences. It dictates what comes first, middle, and last, in a sentence. It tells us how many objects a subjects refers to. It is how you know whether the action I'm telling you about happens now, happened in the past, or will happen in the future.

In the example that came up earlier ("Let's eat, grandpa" and "let's eat grandpa") we know that those two sentences have a different meaning only because we know the grammatical rules that tell us that.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's impossible to get your message across if you're not fluent in the grammatical rules of the language you have chosen to write in.

Or, as my old English teacher used to say, grammar is the difference between knowing your s---, and knowing you're s---.



No, but that is only one sentence out of many. If the person saying "I like coffee. I don't like cake." normally speaks in long flowering sentences akin to a Jane Austen novel, then the sudden change in sentence structure can be used by the writer to subtly accentuate what they are trying to say in that particular paragraph. The person may be very tired, or may be upset at something.

The ability to use the rules of grammar to accentuate and emphasize, as well as ensure that the right message goes through, makes a good writer a better writer.
And that's the same point I was trying to make in my original post about the Dr. and Lawyer. The proper use of grammar ensures that the proper context is understood. Without that basis they wouldn't be able to do their jobs properly. Would you trust a surgeon who hadn't been able to read his text books but just operated on his own common sense and what he'd picked up in the dissection labs? Same goes for the Lawyer. Who would trust a lawyer who was unable to look up case law much less articulate what they were trying to achieve in their motion before the Judge? Good grammar isn't just needed in order to read for pleasure but to read for accurate information as well. If you're trading IM's the two people who are doing the texting understand the context of the messages because they know each other personally. That isn't the case with an author and his readers most of the time. The reader depends on the author making him/herself clear in their writing so they can understand what is going on.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:34 AM   #74
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Actual mistakes in grammar are not, of themselves, necessarily a problem. However too many mistakes suggest a lack of knowledge which, in a writer, suggests they don't know how to use their tools - the words on the page. A few mistakes will, hopefully, go unnoticed when the writer gets the rest of it right, but all the mistakes will become obvious when they add up to the writer getting the sum-total wrong.
A lack of knowledge, or a lack of care for details.

As a reader, I like it when my writers pay attention to detail. When they know that if you live in a cold climate, then in winter when you come into a house from the very cold winter outside, your glasses fog up and you can't immediately see what's right in front of you (unless you take your glasses off). Extremely few natural blondes have dark eyebrows and eyelashes. Someone who is severely allergic to peanut butter will not eat cookies if you can't tell him or her the exact ingredients list first, because it might kill them. Pet owners think about their pets when they are out of town.

And the list goes on.

It's one thing to let little mistakes slip. It's another to be openly careless because "it's not a big deal". Rightly or wrongly I assume that a writer who treats grammar and spelling that way, also treats characters and plot that way, and that's why it bothers me. Typos happen. But sloppy writing? That's unforgivable.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:35 AM   #75
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This is true - we tend to do a lot of ! But the authors are getting in on the act:
http://daringnovelist.blogspot.co.uk...d-editors.html
Um, apparently you didn't read that post. (Or any of the other posts in that series -- which drew on my experience reading slush and judging competitions.)

The answer to the question "Do indie writers need editors?" in that post was an unequivocal (and bolded): NO!

Which isn't to say that indies don't need language skills, but what kind of skills are dictated by the story and venue, and writer's goals, not by style books.

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