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TSE  December 2004

TSE December 2004

Subject:

Re: (OT) Internet : an overkill ?

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 21 Dec 2004 20:27:50 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (270 lines)

Dear Tabitha,

Well you're right that grammar check is moronic--as far as my experience shows--but you clearly should read a great deal more older writing and learn to see it in its own terms.

There is no line before which everything was "olden days."  History is a continuum, and it is a fascinating fact that you can date many things by style.  Style changes, but thinking all style before whatever constitutes "now" is stodgy or not personal is just a lack of enough reading.  It is neither, and  it is not remotely uniform.

As for how things are written on the internet, I care and so do a great many--anyone who cares about writing at, I would think.  I find sloppy writing a great, stodgy bore, and the work of early centuries wildly varied and often fascinating.

Nor is it easier at all to develop an "individual style" now.  It is always incredibly hard and is not a matter of which writing technology is used.  To start with, one needs to be an individual, and just sliding into electronic jargon is about as conformist and commonplace as one can imagine.  "Vivid" is the last word I would use.

Why, you may wonder, am I bothering to say all this.  I say it because I teach poetry, and I care that students are introduced to the complexity and beauty of language.

Oh, and you cannot learn grammar from a website alone.  It takes study and practice and recognition of style.  Try analyzing a few sentence patterns in Virginia Woolf's prose and then try, say, Hemingway and Faulkner and Eliot, and you will learn more than any text--on paper or screen--will tell you, it your really do it.
Best,
Nancy

>>> [log in to unmask] 12/21/04 3:09 PM >>>
Hi all,

Just jumping in on the syntax bandwagon:

Where do you all get the idea that all students depend
or even use the grammar check on our computers?

I am in fact a student, and while I do use the
spellcheck I certainly don't depend on it, and I
completely ignore anything the grammer check says,
because it is moronic.

I've taken a quick survey, and none of my friends use
the grammar check, agreeing that it was likely written
by a spastic.

I've also read a lot of very bad books written way
before the internet came along, and they were far
sloppier than anything I've read written (in book
form) since.  I don't mind bad writing if its on the
web, coz hey, who cares?

Surely its even easier to develop an individual style
now as there is much more of an opportunity to really
establish what we like?  For example, a lot of stuff
written during, lets call them the olden days, is
incredibly stodgy and in a style that barely if at all
conveys the personality of the author.  I read a lot
of things on the web, and while it may not be written
in the best way ever, it at least has a very vivid
style.

Oh, oh, another thing.  I've never been taught
grammar, and I know its not my strong point, but in
these happy days of the sweet, sweet internet it would
take me a matter of seconds to find a really top notch
webpage on it, if I ever feel the need.

Tab, x



--- Vishvesh Obla <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> George,
>
> I really don't mind your name calling.  I am not so
> na´ve as to think what I write would fetch me
> bouquets, and not brickbats ! I don't want bouquets
> either.  So, please go ahead.  I would only be
> interested in what you are saying and see if I can
> find anything substantial to me.  But please don't
> assume that I am throwing a flame-bait.
>
> But then let me make some clarifications as well.
> My
> point was not focused on the syntactical aspects
> alone
> of our writing, which is the worst affected by
> software tools and the internet.  Ms.Nancy gave a
> good
> example.  I am sure it must be a nightmare to any
> teacher today.  Microsoft word has its own
> programmed
> logic of American English grammar and would flash an
> error for many perfect sentences.  Not to mention
> that
> you can ever develop a style of your own creative
> writing with sentences, for example, that need not
> necessarily have a subject.  Students in the US from
> fifth grade onwards use some word processing tool
> and
> never bother to look at how sentences are
> constructed,
> just as most of them never bother to use a simple
> logical faculty of arithmetic and would prefer to
> tap
> a calculating machine today, even for simple
> calculations as, say a 8% interest on a $25 payment
> !
> Ironically, students and the generality of the
> masses
> (a cashier, for instance) fare much better on these
> aspects in third world countries !   When you are
> used
> to such mechanical devices from a tender age, what
> kind of quality in writing could you expect?  I am
> also in the software industry, though not so long as
> you have been, but then I don't defend or find fault
> with it just for the sake of satisfying any personal
> desire to do so.
>
> When the associated technological development of
> word
> processing by its programmed reasoning has a major
> role even in vital matters as constructing a
> sentence
> which gets its life, not just by the syntactical
> factors, but by the power of 'the things of the
> mind',
> as Mathew Arnold would put it in the generality of
> the
> masses from a tender age, I think I have enough
> reasons to question the possibility of any quality
> of
> writing in general.
>
> That being said, I do agree that the reasons for
> sloppy writing, if we believe that writing is so
> today, cannot be solely attributed to the internet.
> I
> didn't say so either.  My argument was based on two
> factors:
>
> 1.      The value of our reading is directly
> proportional
> to the efforts we take for it.
>
> 2.      A discipline for reading presupposes a
> sacrifice
> that is related with such efforts.
>
> Based on the above, I find that the internet has
> played a major role by its over-abundance of
> 'material' or rather 'information' that one who has
> access to it could easily lose hold in what one
> ought
> to perceive from his reading habits.  I hope you
> wouldn't ask me what capacity I have to determine
> what
> one 'ought to perceive'.  For I am assuming  that we
> are here involved in a study where we seek for
> something more than 'information'.   I would
> appreciate if you could argue further in that line,
> instead of making vague references to 'elitist'
> views.
>  I don't mind to be called one, when Eliot himself
> has
> been called so!   For, I know when you make a
> statement with an issue as that, it is general
> tendency to look at all the associated details of it
> and harp on them, forgetting conveniently the crux
> of
> it!
>
> - vishvesh
>
> --- George Carless <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > > Well, on namecalling, I do not recall anyone
> > (certainly not me)
> > > "claim[ing] in a loud voice that they are the
> > downfall of civilization."
> > >  That is another form of namecalling or at least
> > ad hominem/ad feminem.
> >
> > I have perhaps extrapolated or exaggerated too
> far,
> > but I was not
> > suggesting that you had made such a claim--but I
> > hope you would not
> > mistake my hyperbole for a direct quotation.  This
> > is a matter of style,
> > and if I do exaggerate the literal sense of what
> > Vishvesh has said then
> > it is because I have seen his line of reasoning
> time
> > and again, and
> > because I do think it's an incorrect and a rather
> > foolish view.  Again,
> > I do not for a second believe or argue that
> grammar
> > is unimportant, and
> > nor that syntax and style can be policed by
> > software.  But I simply do
> > not agree with the assertion that the Internet, or
> > software, or indeed
> > any modern technology, can be blamed for whatever
> > increase in 'sloppy
> > writing' that you may have observed.  Now, I
> > admittedly do not have the
> > experience to say categorically that there has
> *not*
> > been an increase in
> > such sloppy writing as a result of technology--I'm
> > quite fully within
> > the system that I defend, having been using
> > computers for most of my
> > life, since the early 80s; nonetheless, I do feel
> > that there is
> > sufficient evidence out there, for those who care
> to
> > look for it, that
> > standards have not fallen across the board; or
> that
> > if they have, this
> > decline cannot be attributed simply to
> 'technology'
> > or to 'the
> > Internet'.
> >
> > Again, I believe that the only people who will
> > believe that 'checkers'
> > do "encourage the assumption that one need not
> learn
> > any syntax or
> > style" are those who would not otherwise have made
> > the effort *to* learn
> > syntax and style.  There are many such people, but
> I
> > suspect that there
> > always were.  You may well have a point about
> > teaching of English,
> > though--for my part, I don't recall ever having
> been
> > taught anything
> > much about grammar or style or syntax or anything
> > much beyond a few
> > simple rules that could and invariably should be
> > broken under many
> > circumstances; but I agree with you that
> > understanding of these things
> > can perhaps only be gained by reading and by
> > learning from the best, and
> > from developing a love of language.  And I do
> think
> > that this is an area
> > in which the Internet has a great deal to offer: I
> > would argue that we
> > have never before had such access to such a wide
> > range of intelligent
> > opinions, analyses, deconstructions, explanations,
> > definitions.  We do
> > need to be vigilant, of course, to separate the
> > wheat from the chaff--
> > but again, I think that the Internet will mature
> to
> > the point where the
> > good writing, the good information, will rise to
> the
> > surface while the
> > dross will sink.
> >
> > But if students have read less, perhaps their
> > education--or, present
>
=== message truncated ===





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