I think we must agree to disagree.  I do not share at all the idea that
grammar or spelling are simply "niceties" or that they are separate from
clarity, thought, or conceptualization.  I think that one of the most serious
reasons students have trouble writing is that sentence-level writing has
been tracked into simplistic notions of rules and disconnected from both
genuine expression and genuine communication.

Date sent:              Mon, 19 May 2003 18:25:06 +0100
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   George Carless <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: Journey of the Magi
To:                     [log in to unmask]

> As I am guilty of quoting Eliot from memory without checking the source,
> as Marcia pointed out, and therefore misquoting, I am not in a position
> to be pedantic about this.  But I disagree completely with the idea that
> the way email evokes slippage is a good thing.  I think when people are
> having a conversation, they do think and take care, and I think writing
> always needs to be treated with care even to seem like a conversation.
> I agree about mean-spirited challenges to others, but that is quite
> different from agreeing that fast typing without much attention is a
> good thing.  Why is it good?  It let me misquote and so quite
> misrepresent Eliot's care, though that was my interest.  So I won't
> quote again without checking or making clear that I am paraphrasing from
> memory.  Love of language is not pedantry.

No, it's not.  But too much worry about such things as incorrect spellings
or the niceties of grammatical usage can get in the way of constructive
discussion.  There's a difference between exercising care when writing,
and setting out to play the grammar nazi for everyone else's posts, and
I'd emphasize again that I'm *not* merely saying "attention to language
doesn't matter", but rather that I think it serves us all better when
people spend their energy in -- fancy this -- discussing Eliot or his
criticism or his poetry, rather than in nit-picking for others.  And I
would generally say that lively discussion, even if not always technically
perfect, is more rewarding than an atmosphere in which some people may
lack confidence in posting lest they be gunned down by a resident grammar

And, ultimately, language should serve us, and not the other way around. I
think that if someone's meaning is unclear then it's fair and right to ask
-- politely -- for explication.  But often the tendency seems towards the
anal-retentive.. and most often (as always tends to be the case) the
greatest culprits are those who in fact have the least to really say.