Re: "Correct" English

Subject: Re: "Correct" English
From: John Ahlstrom <jahlstro -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 14:12:42 -0800

Before I comment on what BrYan Westbrook wrote below let me say a
couple of things.

I do not believe that we could get any two people to agree on
what "correct" English is. Therefore, I do not believe that there
IS "correct" English.

I believe that there are various usages and contexts and judgments
about such and such a usage in such and such a context that span
the spectrum from required to unacceptable.

Judgment Usage and Context
Usage required in this context -- use or non-use of serial comma
in various college dissertation
style guides, or college remedial
writing classes, or company style
guides, or...

Usage expected in this context "He and I went to the movie" in
a writing sample for a tech writing

Usage acceptable in this context "It's me" in everyday, informal

Usage unacceptable in this context -- use or non-use of serial comma
in various college disseratation
style guides, ...

I believe that that given a context and a usage there will be more agreement
about judgment than about "correct" English.

I think that we can have just as good a time discussing the required...unacceptable
judgments as we can about "correctness" and can probably even make more progress
and give each other more help that way.

As Dennis Baron has said:

"When a language critic complains about a word or construction, you can
be fairly certain that the target expression has already become common
enough to be considered standard and correct, and that if you read or
listen long enough, you will find the offending bit of language in the
language critic's speech or writing."
Dennis Baron
Guide to Home Language Repair

(For future reference, please archive this message. In the
future I will conserver bandwidth by referring to it only as "Flame #1".[sic])

BrYan Westbrook wrote:

:On Fri, 20 Dec 1996 13:12:50 -0800, "Tony G. Rocco" <trocco -at- NAVIS -dot- COM>

:>1) He incorrectly assumes there is such thing as "proper English" when, =
:>fact, there is not.

:And just what is the basis for this statement of yours? Do we not have
:dictionaries (with pronunciation guides)? Do we not have grammar texts?
:Whether or not it is ever used there IS correct English and incorrect
:English. It should not be considered a virtue to NOT strive towards
:improving ones grammar.

Many people frown on using "and" to being a sentence. Is it correct?

Are not the pronunciation guides in dictionaries guides? Does that mean
there are several correct pronunciations?

Many people froun on splitting infinitives? Is that correct or not? How do
we know? Or, if we cannot know, how do we decide?

Many people think it important to use an apostrophe to indicate the
possessive of one: "one's" rather than "ones".

(Please note that all MY typos are intentional to help enforce my copyright
of this material. ;) )

Here are some extra :)s to scatter about where you think appropriate.

J Ahlstrom

A conclusion is simply the place where you got
tired of thinking.

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