Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Writing - Good news/Bad news and Grammar

Gallery Owner:I have some good news and some bad news.
What's the good news?
Gallery Owner:The good news is that a man came in here today asking if the price of your paintings would go up after you die.  When I told him they would he bought every one of your paintings.
Artist:That's great!  What's the bad news?
Gallery Owner:The bad news is that man was your doctor!

Every now and again I feel that the accumulated quantity of bad news is really depressing. The tin lid was put on the current affairs in the news at present with the release of Chris Huhne and Vicky Price

 These two were found guilty of perverting the course of justice (fundamentally telling lies) and were given prison sentences of around eight months. They served eight weeks in open prisons. I've no doubt that there conditions were somewhat better than those of the majority of pensioners have to endure in this country. The piece of the article that real messed with my head was the announcement that once again they will each write a book. I've no doubt that publisher's will be falling over each other to produce said books, probably written by some overworked, underpaid ghost writer. Once again publisher's milking what they see as a ready made market with a pair of books which I contest shouldn't be written. Why would the buying public want to read about the experiences of two proven liars? The mind boggles!

Grammar Tests for primary age children

A new grammar and spelling test arrives in primary schools in England this week. It is the first time in a while that such emphasis has been put on grammar.
Some of the questions will seem straightforward for many adults, such as where to place a comma or a colon in a sentence. But other aspects - identifying different types of adverbs or distinguishing between subordinating and co-ordinating connectives - might raise eyebrows.
Grammar is not just an educational issue. For some adults, it can sabotage friendships and even romantic relationships.
Grammarians argue it ensures clarity and elegance. For others, it is a series of archaic rules beloved of pedants, bearing little relation to how people really communicate.

It isn't always obvious what constitutes good and bad grammar.
The 17th Century poet John Dryden is said to have invented the notion that you can't end a sentence with a preposition, which has led to heated debate ever since. And what about starting a sentence with "and"?

One has to be careful, cautions Patrick Wilson, founder of the Tutor Crowd, which works with young people. "There's a danger people can be too judgemental."
He, like many of his students, used to struggle at school with grammar and spelling. "Knowing when to use a semi-colon is not a determinant of intelligence. It's a determinant of whether you can follow rules."

The split infinitive is the most celebrated of grammar conundrums. Henry Fowler, author of the Dictionary of Modern English Usage, published in 1926, summed up the debate as follows.
"The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are a happy folk, to be envied by the minority classes."
Grammar is provocative. But perhaps it's an itch that English speakers need to scratch.

I think I come somewhere between (1) and (5)!!!!!

Sometimes splitting the infinitive deserves artistic licence.

God Bless