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20100726

The Elements of Style



"It is well to remember that grammar is common speech formulated."
~William Somerset Maughan


"There are abundantly more English professors in the world than there are authors."
~Vanna Bonta

11 comments:

  1. "It is well to remember..." Is this a euphemism...and perhaps one from a particular social class and period in Britain? Well then, it certainly would be considered common usage, let's say, in a men's club in London. But what is the "it" that gets better through remembering?

    What's wrong with "it is good to remember"? Does the AUTHOR wish to avoid or disguise his moral dictum? You had better remember this or else! Woe upon us when authors take a stick in hand to "teach" us something.

    You see the work of the grammarian is essential as long as authors are running around testing the limits of language and inventing new stuff no one ever has said before. Thank goodness there are so few of them and so many of us. Now if you'll excuse me, I see a student with a question is waiting for me up at my lectern.

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  2. > You see the work of the grammarian is essential as long as
    > authors are running around testing the limits of language<
    > and inventing new stuff no one ever has said before.

    Now, here is something for you to remember.

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  3. I think jazzolog is confusing grammar with semantics.

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  4. The point is that while grammatical forms have direct semantics correlates, in extreme, motivated grammar can turn into iconicity.

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  5. Take the Kamasutra for instance.

    The highlighted quote is from The Book of Love: The Story of the Kamasutra by James McConnachie.

    The author goes on to mention Lee Siegel's tragicomedy Love in a Dead Language, which charts the downfall of an American professor of Indian studies who lusts after one of his students, "the beautiful, facile and Californian" Lalita Gupta:

    "I've dedicated my life to studying Sanskrit, to learning about India," Professor Roth complains, "yet I've never made love to an Indian woman." Roth sets about inveigling his "Lalita" to go on a solo study tour of India and he begins producing his own translation of the Kamasutra as a gift of love.

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  6. He is eventually murdered with a Sanskrit dictionary.

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  7. Well, thank you so very much for spoiling the ending :{

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  8. But Ben, it is well to remember a dictionary's most common usage.

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