Thursday, April 28, 2005

Of Verbiage & Verbosity

I can't seem to figure out where to place my commas anymore. Don't even ask me about the state of the semi-colon. I don't know if it is just me who struggles with English Grammar or if it is everyone who has been sending emails peppered with corporate euphemisms. On one hand, words are being axed with undue severity (SMS of course!) and on the other, there are all sorts of phrases that are used to avoid being sued for admitting to a problem.

John Humphrys' Lost for Words is a collection of such abuse to the English Language. He argues that inflexibility in a language makes it unpopular. However, that is no reason for allowing gross abuse.

People who say every rule should be observed meticulously do not know what they are talking about. And if you don't believe me, try "correcting" that sentence to end: "... don't know about what they're talking".

If we were indeed being oppressed, the liberals should have realised that the way to overcome our oppressor was to use his own weapon against him: good English. Rules do not confine; they liberate.

We talk of future plans and past history; of live survivors and safe havens. Children have temper tantrums and politicians announce "new initiatives" - though maybe that is to distinguish them from the many "initiatives" that are recycled versions of failed old ones. We say "from whence" and "he is currently the chairman..."

2 comments:

perspective said...

well i completely agree with the "words being axed" problem, and on the other side this great fancy for using big phrases and high-fi vocabulary. There isnt a message i recieve that doesnt have short forms, and it took me ages to figure out what IMHO and TINK meant...

But grammar is surely going down the drain, noone writes simple but lucid english anymore it seems... complicated phrases and short forms (again a complication) is the way of this Aquarian Age i suppose.

Phoenix said...

Interesting and yes definitely the english grammar is going down with our generation.
We often mix more of style with substance,more of colour with content., etc,thereby using slangs,symbols,cliches,
brackets,dashes., etc
This may be okay in informal context but in formal context we definitely need to take care,
but as a matter of practice it gets mixed.
When writing, we should be mindful of the fact that once something is in written form, it cannot be taken back. Communicating through words can be more concrete than verbal communications, with less room for error and even less room for mistakes. This presents written communicators with new challenges as well, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, even writing style and actual wording.I know some persons of the older generations, who would have a nifty grammar guide
in their pockets to write a clear,concise letters and proposals., etc in a punctilious manner.
Perhaps, we should learn from them.