Monday, January 25, 2010

In Praise of Pedantry

I just returned from a seminar on proposal writing, and something that was mentioned really didn't sit right with me.  Our presenter, who has significant qualifications, mentioned that spelling and grammar are important, but not that important.  Further, he suggested that you didn't need someone to proofread your proposal.  In his words, 'if it sound right to you, it's fine.'

Sadly, that is not fine, so I must object.

Now, I'm a little pedantic.  How pedantic?  Well, I use the word, pedantry.  Be that as it may, there is a valid case for employing proper grammar and syntax... even for you non-pedants out there.  Basically, the reason we have these rules of usage is so that everyone understands the meaning of each other's words.  Language can be quite ambiguous.  We rely on these rules to ensure that other people understand that which we write or say.  It is not enough that you understand the meaning; to adapt a phrase, it must sound right to your audience.

There's a Murphy's Law-esque phenomenon that afflicts many writers; it suggests that whenever you write a blog post correcting someone's grammar, you are destined to commit, at minimum, one grammatical faux pas.  Thus, I fully expect that there is some sort of mistake in this post.

And I will take such a mistake as further support for my argument.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the self-fulfilling prophecy.

    You missed the "s" on "sounds".

    Some would call that grammatical karma, but we both know that's not how karma works, as you said earlier. :)