Friday, June 10, 2011
Well, guess what? I moved into the business world and attended a training session that provided me with a "Duh!" moment.
Latin grammar never changes because Latin is a dead language. Dead? Yes. Because there's nowhere in the world where people actively speak it, so it never changes.
That doesn't work with English. English is a vibrant, ever-changing language. It's the official language in several countries, and each one manages to tweak it in their own way. For example, in 2007, the word Woot was the Merriam-Webster Dictionary word of the year. If you follow the link you'll see what it means. But do you know where it came from? We Owned the Other Team. It's a gaming term that's now being used by people who aren't gamers.
Snarky is another word I like. I heard it for the first time when I became a moderator at the Leaky Lounge. Many of the other moderators are British, and that's been mostly a British term, according to Dictionary.com. But I'm hearing it a lot now, both from people I associate with and on American television and in American books.
This is my first post in a weekly series on grammar (future posts should be shorter). From what I read in books, we writers seem to have a bit more discretion than people in the business world. For example, Jo Rowling uses comma splices all the time. What's a comma splice? It's when you use a comma to connect to standalone sentences. In business writing, it's considered poor grammar.
Ted grabbed the ball. He threw it at Bill.
Ted grabbed the ball, he threw it at Bill. (this is a comma splice.)
Grammatically correct options? You can connect the two sentences with the word "and".
Ted grabbed the ball, and he threw it at Bill.
If the sentences are closely related, you could use a semicolon.
Ted grabbed the ball; he threw it at Bill.
But Rowling's editors didn't find it necessary to edit out all her comma splices, so that implies to me that for writing books (not about grammar or for business), we may have some discretion. Who decides? My guess is your editor.
But everyone needs to know there are different styles of grammar. And the rules are different, depending upon the style you're using. When I teach classes on grammar, I suggest that my coworkers choose one style and be consistent. At work, we use the Gregg Reference Manual. This is business oriented, but it's still a good resource about grammar rules. They update every five years to keep up with trends. Click here if you'd like to see a list of other sources.
Notice in the following (hilarious) video the reference to the Chicago Manual of Style. They aren't talking fashion.
So where are your grammar strengths? How about your weaknesses? What resources do you prefer to use?