yesterday's activities

Peaches

Well-Known Member
I try to address some more content-based elements as well, as the conventional wisdom for composition instructors is that you need to work on both, but my priority really is grammar. I think the #1 thing that is going to hold this student back in the professional workplace is non-standard English.

Peaches, Pygmalion, Cornutt: I'd be interested in getting your perspective. How important is being able to write grammatically in your workplace?

I'm talking about writing sentences like this:

"Being that you are going there anyway."
"I don't think there is no parent who would do that."
"If they was to make that law, no one would respect it."
CCM, with all due respect, I cannot believe you are truly asking that question...particularly given your examples. (Although I must confess that the construction in the first sentence is similar to something I prefer: "Seeing as how you are blah blah blah..." That said, I'd never EVER use that in a professional context.)

I can accept non-standard English from someone who is not a native English speaker. The nuances of the language are difficult, and it is generally pretty easy to tell when that is the cause. However, flat-out bad English, with exceptionally bad grammar... Well, I was going to say that there is no excuse for that but, sadly, the state of the school system means that there could well be such an excuse. That said, excuse or genuine reason or laziness or what-have-you is not going to cut it when it comes to a professional context, IMO. (And this is me "speaking," and i don't have stellar grammar to begin with...although I know those sentences are hideously bad.)

In my workplace, I'd say that being able to write grammatically isn't very important: it's taken for granted that you can. Period. You may or may not need proper English in order to write, say, program specifications (which are practically their own separate language to begin with!), but at some point you are going to have to brief a supervisor, or write a report, or document something. And THEN you have got to have proper English. Period. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but being able to write grammatically (or relatively grammatically) doesn't get to "count" in the work world, the same way that showing up having showered and put on clothing shouldn't "count" in the work world--it's just so basic it should be able to be taken for granted. You don't get credit for doing what you should be doing as a minimum baseline.

(And I do understand the difference between bad grammar because you don't know better and bad grammar because you've used it for effect. I get that. Work is not the place for that. And if a student cannot understand when it is, and is not, acceptable to be using bad grammar for effect--and I'd most certainly argue that a standard essay is not an appropriate place--well, that's just as much of a problem.)

...sorry...you've touched a nerve with me here. ;) It's a topic I feel EXTREMELY strongly about.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
Back to grammar for a minute. Have you ever watched Obama speak at a Black church? It's really funny. He's not the world's best at code switching, but code switching he does. Gotta give the man props. There are ain'ts and gonnas popping out all over the place. He knows his audience and knows better than to sound stuffy. This is also a man who held his own and won the honor of editing the Harvard Law Review.

(Let us please not turn this into a political discussion. Bush, Clinton, the other Bush, Carter, Ford, LBJ, all did code switching, as well, IMV. Not so sure about Nixon, but that's another story.)

Good grammar is a tool, unless you don't know how to use it. If you don't know how to use it, it's a hammer that bops you upside the head. *grin*
Agreed. He is good at it. (The other one who stands out in this regard is Bill Clinton, IMO.)

I wish I could remember (or that I had the time right now to look up) the part of To Kill a Mockingbird where that topic is addressed. Something about the housekeeper (who is black, although I believe she was called "negro," times being what they were) code switching between her employer's house and among her family. I believe it is Scout who comments on it.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
In my workplace, I'd say that being able to write grammatically isn't very important: it's taken for granted that you can. Period. You may or may not need proper English in order to write, say, program specifications (which are practically their own separate language to begin with!), but at some point you are going to have to brief a supervisor, or write a report, or document something. And THEN you have got to have proper English. Period. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but being able to write grammatically (or relatively grammatically) doesn't get to "count" in the work world, the same way that showing up having showered and put on clothing shouldn't "count" in the work world--it's just so basic it should be able to be taken for granted. You don't get credit for doing what you should be doing as a minimum baseline.

(And I do understand the difference between bad grammar because you don't know better and bad grammar because you've used it for effect. I get that. Work is not the place for that. And if a student cannot understand when it is, and is not, acceptable to be using bad grammar for effect--and I'd most certainly argue that a standard essay is not an appropriate place--well, that's just as much of a problem.)

Yeah. What bothers me is when people don't know bad grammar when they see it.

It's one thing to choose a less formal or even just plain wrong sentence structure for fun, among friends. At work, poor grammar is one of those things that sidelines careers. It's just like wearing borderline suggestive clothes. Nobody ever says anything, but, for some unknown reason, you never get on the fast track for promotion. Nobody will ever tell you that it's about your pink fluffy sweater that's unbuttoned one button too many or the double negatives in your speech. You just never get promoted.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
drive from rock springs wy to hemiston oregon, which is fairly unimpressive...at least at the exit...but there is a comfort inn and I am uber platinum there so...oh well....a quiet night tonight, then I wil pick up son at airport tomo...then...cutest baby in the world for days and days and days....
 

cornutt

Well-Known Member
Peaches, Pygmalion, Cornutt: I'd be interested in getting your perspective. How important is being able to write grammatically in your workplace?
Absolutely important. Most of the stuff we write is so loaded with jargon and acronyms that if it doesn't have some standard English to hold it together, it's utterly unreadable.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
drive from rock springs wy to hemiston oregon, which is fairly unimpressive...at least at the exit...but there is a comfort inn and I am uber platinum there so...oh well....a quiet night tonight, then I wil pick up son at airport tomo...then...cutest baby in the world for days and days and days....

TTIUWP
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
Thanks. Whatever works for you, of course. It's just that I enjoyed seeing his pix, last time around. :) That picture of you with him, all chunky and cute, on your hip, is priceless.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
Back to bites and stings for a moment. Now I know I'm not crazy or, if I am, I have good company. I was watching an episode of The World's Strictest Parents this morning. In it, the host parent, who is the Chief of Police in an Oklahoma town, rushed his guest/visiting child to the ER. The young lady had reported insect bites and appeared to have become unresponsive.

We Southwest folks take our bug bites seriously. As it turned out, she was faking it (long story,) but, in all seriousness, when it comes to insect venom, IMV, better safe than sorry.

ETA: I should add that I did google it. Although the brown recluse is seen mostly in the Southwest, some have been sighted as far north as Ohio.

Also ETA: Love the World's Strictest Parents. I watched two episodes this morning (instead of DFing. So sue me. :D ) The other episode transplanted two unruly teens to a gated, 100% strict, Orthodox Jewish community outside Tel Aviv. It was really fascinating to watch the girl, especially, learn to treat herself with respect by learning to dress modestly enough to meet the community's requirements. Really interesting to see how parents that seem ridiculously tough by my standards can parent strangers' kids with so much love. I'm learning. :)
 

ChaChaMama

Well-Known Member
CCM, with all due respect, I cannot believe you are truly asking that question...particularly given your examples. (Although I must confess that the construction in the first sentence is similar to something I prefer: "Seeing as how you are blah blah blah..." That said, I'd never EVER use that in a professional context.)

I can accept non-standard English from someone who is not a native English speaker. The nuances of the language are difficult, and it is generally pretty easy to tell when that is the cause. However, flat-out bad English, with exceptionally bad grammar... Well, I was going to say that there is no excuse for that but, sadly, the state of the school system means that there could well be such an excuse. That said, excuse or genuine reason or laziness or what-have-you is not going to cut it when it comes to a professional context, IMO. (And this is me "speaking," and i don't have stellar grammar to begin with...although I know those sentences are hideously bad.)

In my workplace, I'd say that being able to write grammatically isn't very important: it's taken for granted that you can. Period. You may or may not need proper English in order to write, say, program specifications (which are practically their own separate language to begin with!), but at some point you are going to have to brief a supervisor, or write a report, or document something. And THEN you have got to have proper English. Period. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but being able to write grammatically (or relatively grammatically) doesn't get to "count" in the work world, the same way that showing up having showered and put on clothing shouldn't "count" in the work world--it's just so basic it should be able to be taken for granted. You don't get credit for doing what you should be doing as a minimum baseline.

(And I do understand the difference between bad grammar because you don't know better and bad grammar because you've used it for effect. I get that. Work is not the place for that. And if a student cannot understand when it is, and is not, acceptable to be using bad grammar for effect--and I'd most certainly argue that a standard essay is not an appropriate place--well, that's just as much of a problem.)

...sorry...you've touched a nerve with me here. ;) It's a topic I feel EXTREMELY strongly about.
I was asking seriously. I think sometimes our students think that ONLY ENGLISH PROFESSORS care about this stuff. I think they are wrong. Sometimes, it is nice to get outside confirmation that even people in fields FAR REMOVED from the humanities care about grammar and standard written English.

I'm very in favor of being able to code switch. I do it too, and students are always amused when I pull out something obviously and intentionally ungrammatical. Spoken English has lots of flavors, and so can informal writing. But there's a difference between pulling out an "Ain't nobody got time for that!" for effect and writing formal reports using non-standard English.

Thanks for providing evidence to back up my assertions.
 

nikkitta

Well-Known Member
I question what may have changed in the school curriculum today vs. say ~20 yrs ago to cause the inability to write properly to be so prevalent these days, even in native english speakers. Is it that children born in the computer age no longer put pencil to paper? Is grammar not being taught?

This has probably earned its own thread, but for now I'll leave this comment here. Right or wrong, I can't help but form opinions on a person based on how they speak and write.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
I think it's that kids don't read actual books or hear books read to them, so that they can't hear/see what poor grammar looks/sounds like.

Everything's on a five-inch screen. *sigh*

I don't think it has to do with school curriculum. I think it has to do with parents or other caring adults reading with their children instead of allowing them to entertain themselves with electronics.


I am prejudiced, but that's what I see. *shrug*
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
Saturday: Slept in after dog 1 woke me up at almost 2, wanting to go out, where he did nothing, came in, climbed on the bed, wouldn't relax, and I finally put him out in the living room with dog 2 and cats. No idea what his problem was. Did taxes. Somehow am getting money back from the feds, which is always a nice surprise, in certain ways (my goal is to have no liability and no refund, meaning I withheld perfectly. Like that'll happen.) Walked dogs, dog 1 is still whiny and generally uneasy until I put his Thundershirt on. Going through seed catalogs as it's pretty much that time as far as starting things in the Aerogarden goes. Trying not to to spend all my money at PineTree Seeds as I don't even HAVE that much room (and I still have a load of bushes and such to get from Jung Seeds and Plants...) Must begin plotting for county fair (cross your fingers and pray for my pumpkins, heirloom Small Sugar, and watermelons, heirloom Tom Watsons, which are supposed to come in at 90 days or less).
 

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
Wednesday:

Lesson, in which some stuff Teach and I had discussed the previous day reared its ugly head and yet the dragon was slain; what *is* it about true confessions that frees me up to dance better afterward?
Work with Ex, ship a package to Norway
Theater

Thursday

Taxes, taxes taxes taxes taxes
Kill me now
Dinner with BFF, been a loooooong time
Drive home in the snow; beautiful
 

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
Yesterday:

Again with the taxes
Long-lost friend surfaces, to mixed reviews
Shovel a path in driveway so I can get to...
Lesson, in which wonderful things happen
Brief time with the Ex, dealing with Norway package that got returned by Customs; TDNWMH
Home; make lasagne, in spite of best efforts of kitten to keep that from happening
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
I hear ya. Still learning to use my new laptop, so my long response got eaten.


I think that all politicians code switch, even though it's more obvious with some than others. We're talking about powerful (mostly) men, (mostly) millionaires, (mostly) American born, who have to somehow make themselves relatable to poor people living in the Appalachians, and women, and immigrants, for example. No way in heck I'd go to Podunk, WV, and speak with Oxford University English. Politicians have to get across the message that they are governing everyone, not just the Rhodes scholars and Yale Law grads like themselves. They ALL do it. That's politics. Which doesn't belong in DF. *shrug*

I would contend that techies do it too. Want funding for your latest widget? Go talk to the money guys, in a language they understand. Sure as heck not techie. You've gotta talk money, to the money guys.


Same deal with me. I talk to people in a way that I think will make it easier for them to hear me. Like the Apostle Paul said in Romans something or the other, "When I speak to Romans, I speak as a Roman. When I speak to Jews, I speak as a Jew."** I don't think there's anything wrong with customizing your message to your audience.


** This is paraphrased. I can't remember the exact quote.
 

ChaChaMama

Well-Known Member
I personally don't like it. And in particular, when politicians do it, it comes across as both phony, and mocking the audience. Maybe I'm just sensitive to it because I've heard so many bad imitations of Southern accents.
I hear you. I wasn't necessarily talking about politicians, though. I was talking about regular folks in day-to-day discourse.

To use the language of the academy, we participate in different "discourse communities," with different vocabularies, grammar rules, idioms, manners of address. If you don't code switch to some degree, you come across sounding stuffy or out of place.

To give a minor example:
I grew up in suburban NJ in the 1970s. When I was a kid, your friends' parents were "Mr and Mrs. Last Name," e.g., "Mr. and Mrs. Dresner," "Mr. and Mrs. Kostin," "Mrs. Isenberg," etc. Parents were known to have first names, but children did not get to use them.

My kid is growing up in MD in the 2000s, and around here, kids refer to their friends' parents or adult neighbors as "Mr. and Miss First Name." So kids will say "Mr. Andy," "Mr. Keith," "Miss Cecilia." Now, I could insist on "Mrs. Last Name," but to do so would be to insist on standing out.

When I lived in California in the early 1990s, I was friends with an African-American woman, and her community, it was "Miss Aunt First Name," regardless of your actual relationship to someone. So she was "Miss Aunt Shirley."

Another example:
I am in a different internet group, and in this group, someone mentioned having seen the word "recalcitrant" a few times this week and thinking of that as a real $10 word. Within my family and my professional life, that would not be considered a weird word at all. I do sometimes catching myself using words that other people probably find a little too high-falutin' and college professor-y. If I don't code switch to a degree, I risk being perceived as a show off. I want to be perceived as smart, but not as full of myself.
 

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