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nickel
19-08-2014, 11:51 AM
Για την ακρίβεια:

Steven Pinker: 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes)
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/15/steven-pinker-10-grammar-rules-break

Άρθρο του γλωσσολόγου Steven Pinker στην Guardian ενόψει της κυκλοφορίας του βιβλίου του The Sense of Style: the Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Το άρθρο είναι χορταστικό και ενδιαφέρον, ιδιαίτερα οι ενότητες για τις προθέσεις και τα split infinitives (αν θυμάμαι καλά γιατί πάνε και λίγες μέρες που το διάβασα). Θα αντιγράψω εδώ κάποιες γενικότερες σκέψεις του εισαγωγικού μέρους, που ισχύουν για κάθε γλώσσα:



Among the many challenges of writing is dealing with rules of correct usage: whether to worry about split infinitives, fused participles, and the meanings of words such as "fortuitous", "decimate" and "comprise". Supposedly a writer has to choose between two radically different approaches to these rules. Prescriptivists prescribe how language ought to be used. They uphold standards of excellence and a respect for the best of our civilisation, and are a bulwark against relativism, vulgar populism and the dumbing down of literate culture. Descriptivists describe how language actually is used. They believe that the rules of correct usage are nothing more than the secret handshake of the ruling class, designed to keep the masses in their place. Language is an organic product of human creativity, say the Descriptivists, and people should be allowed to write however they please.

It's a catchy dichotomy, but a false one. Anyone who has read an inept student paper, a bad Google translation, or an interview with George W Bush can appreciate that standards of usage are desirable in many arenas of communication. They can lubricate comprehension, reduce misunderstanding, provide a stable platform for the development of style and grace, and signal that a writer has exercised care in crafting a passage.

But this does not mean that every pet peeve, bit of grammatical folklore, or dimly remembered lesson from Miss Thistlebottom's classroom is worth keeping. Many prescriptive rules originated for screwball reasons, impede clear and graceful prose, and have been flouted by the best writers for centuries.

How can you distinguish the legitimate concerns of a careful writer from the folklore and superstitions? These are the questions to ask. Does the rule merely extend the logic of an intuitive grammatical phenomenon to more complicated cases, such as avoiding the agreement error in "The impact of the cuts have not been felt"? Do careful writers who inadvertently flout the rule agree, when the breach is pointed out, that something has gone wrong? Has the rule been respected by the best writers in the past? Is it respected by careful writers in the present? Is there a consensus among discerning writers that it conveys an interesting semantic distinction? And are violations of the rule obvious products of mishearing, careless reading, or a chintzy attempt to sound highfalutin?

A rule should be rejected, in contrast, if the answer to any of the following questions is "Yes." Is the rule based on some crackpot theory, such as that English should emulate Latin, or that the original meaning of a word is the only correct one? Is it instantly refuted by the facts of English, such as the decree that nouns may not be converted into verbs? Did it originate with the pet peeve of a self-anointed maven? Has it been routinely flouted by great writers? Is it based on a misdiagnosis of a legitimate problem, such as declaring that a construction that is sometimes ambiguous is always ungrammatical? Do attempts to fix a sentence so that it obeys the rule only make it clumsier and less clear?

Finally, does the putative rule confuse grammar with formality? Every writer commands a range of styles that are appropriate to different times and places. A formal style that is appropriate for the inscription on a genocide memorial will differ from a casual style that is appropriate for an email to a close friend. Using an informal style when a formal style is called for results in prose that seems breezy, chatty, casual, flippant. Using a formal style when an informal style is called for results in prose that seems stuffy, pompous, affected, haughty. Both kinds of mismatch are errors. Many prescriptive guides are oblivious to this distinction, and mistake informal style for incorrect grammar.

The easiest way to distinguish a legitimate rule of usage from a grandmother's tale is unbelievably simple: look it up. Consult a modern usage guide or a dictionary with usage notes. Many people, particularly sticklers, are under the impression that every usage myth ever loosed on the world by a self-proclaimed purist will be backed up by the major dictionaries and manuals. In fact, these reference works, with their careful attention to history, literature and actual usage, are the most adamant debunkers of grammatical nonsense. (This is less true of style sheets drawn up by newspapers and professional societies, and of manuals written by amateurs such as critics and journalists, which tend to mindlessly reproduce the folklore of previous guides.)

Hellegennes
19-08-2014, 01:00 PM
Πάρα πολύ ωραίο κείμενο. Κατάφερα να μαντέψω τα πιο πολλά απ' τα 10 πράγματα. Ίσως θα έπρεπε να γράψουμε κι εμείς ένα αντίστοιχο. Ο Σαραντάκος έχει ασχοληθεί πολλές φορές με διάφορα από τα ελληνικά αντίστοιχα, αλλά δεν νομίζω να τα έχει συγκεντρώσει ποτέ σε ένα σημείωμα. Θα ήταν ενδιαφέρον.

Alexandra
19-08-2014, 01:13 PM
Many children are taught that it is ungrammatical to begin a sentence with a conjunction. That's because teachers need a simple way to teach them how to break sentences, so they tell them that sentences beginning with "and" and other conjunctions are ungrammatical. Whatever the pedagogical merits may be of feeding children misinformation, it is inappropriate for adults. There is nothing wrong with beginning a sentence with a conjunction. "And", "but" and "so" are indispensable in linking individual sentences into a coherent passage, and they may be used to begin a sentence whenever the clauses being connected are too long or complicated to fit comfortably into a single megasentence.

Πολλά παιδιά το διδάσκονται, αλλά μερικά μεγαλώνουν και γίνονται επιμελητές υποτιτλισμού και ισχυρίζονται ότι ούτε υπότιτλος δεν μπορεί να ξεκινάει με "και". Ο οποίος υπότιτλος σημειωτέον αποτυπώνει ακριβώς τον προφορικό λόγο, όπου ο ομιλητής έτυχε να ξεκινήσει τη φράση του με "και".

dominotheory
08-11-2015, 01:52 PM
.....

Και η συζήτηση συνεχίζεται, με σαφώς ριζοσπαστική διάθεση:

Steven Pinker: 'Many of the alleged rules of writing are actually superstitions'
Bad English has always been with us, but clarity and style are far more important than observing dusty usage diktats (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/oct/06/steven-pinker-alleged-rules-of-writing-superstitions)

Μικρό -αλλά αρκούντως αιχμηρό- απόσπασμα από το τέλος του άρθρου:

"Why would the New Yorker (and a handful of like-minded literary critics) have such a problem with the seemingly congenial project of applying new scholarship to improving the clarity and grace of modern prose? My own theory is that their recoil is a symptom of what CP Snow called the “Second Culture” of literary intellectuals and critics. This value system builds in a pessimism about the current state of culture, a nostalgia for a more civilised past, a distrust of the innovations of the young, a rejection of the possibility of scientific and technological progress, and a paranoia about the incursion of science into the sacred territory of the humanities. But all this is a topic for another book."