Re: passives, etc.

Subject: Re: passives, etc.
From: Don M Chaffee <dchaffee -at- WORLD -dot- STD -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 1994 00:19:07 GMT

Michael Spooner <MSPOONER -at- cc -dot- usu -dot- edu> writes:

>Interesting that this active/passive controversy should come up
>this week; my tech editing class touched on it Wednesday. So you've
>just made education relevant to real life for 20-some lurking students
>(they'd better be lurking). Thanks.

>Personally, I'd be loathe to lose the passive--or any other linguistic
>nuance--for fear I might need it later, maybe to cover my tracks. Therefore,
>I'm wary of the knee-jerk reaction against it that Shannon Ford mentions.
>I like Bonni Graham's instinct about the relative functions of active and
>passive. If you really want "authoritative" backing, Bonni, you could cite
>Eisenberg. She says essentially the same thing you do: active highlights the
>subject (of the action, that is), and passive highlights the object. So it
>should be a functional choice, not an aesthetic one.

>On another thread (I get the digest, so please forgive all this in one), I have
>to say I am bored to tears with the Conan-the-Grammarian approach to language
>variation and usage. It is simply dumb, I think, to go to the wall "defending"
>the language against variations like "impact" or "interface" used as verbs,
>neologisms like "prioritize," and so forth. This stuff happens because people
>are creative; maybe language itself is creative. Don't fight it. To quote
>Calvin, "verbing weirds language," and it's a helluva a lot of fun.

>Finally, while I'm out on this limb, whoever said that tech writing is the
>primary source of information in this age ought to have the contents of their
>head impounded and examined. For such a thing to be true would require a
>truly impoverished concept of information or a supremely expansive view of tech
>writing. Either of which is plain out-of-touch.

>Interface wit' ya later,
>Michael Spooner

Gee. I wish I'd said that.
This article deserves reposting, in case someone missed it the first time.

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