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nerdfiles · 2012-05-16 · Original thread
1. Read "Politics and the English Language", Orwell

2. Goto

3. Read by Jack Lynch (as well)

4. Understand Paul Grice's Conversational Maxim's: (Understand that they are, as proffered by Grice, descriptive, partly anthropological heuristics for analysis of certain ways of talking, or façon de parler; but they _may_ also be developed as normative principles which may be used to constructively guide all talk exchanges.)

Fig. 1, Grice's Maxims:

❝ The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.

The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.

The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.

The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity.

Fig. 2, an excerpt from J. Lynch:

❝ ##Prepositions.

Prepositions are usually little words that indicate direction, position, location, and so forth. Some examples: to, with, from, at, in, near, by, beside, and above.

A quick-and-dirty rule of thumb: you can usually recognize a preposition by putting it before the word he. If your ear tells you he should be him, the word might be a preposition. Thus to plus he becomes to him, so to is a preposition. (This doesn't help with verbs of action; show + he becomes show him. Still, it might help in some doubtful cases.)

##Prepositions at the End.

Along with split infinitives, a favorite bugbear of the traditionalists. Whatever the merit of the rule — and both historically and logically, there's not much — there's a substantial body of opinion against end-of-sentence prepositions; if you want to keep the crusty old-timers happy, try to avoid ending written sentences (and clauses) with prepositions, such as to, with, from, at, and in. Instead of writing “The topics we want to write on,” where the preposition on ends the clause, consider “The topics on which we want to write.” Prepositions should usually go before (pre-position) the words they modify.

On the other hand — and it's a big other hand — old-timers shouldn't always dictate your writing, and you don't deserve your writing license if you elevate this rough guideline into a superstition. Don't let it make your writing clumsy or obscure; if a sentence is more graceful with a final preposition, let it stand. For instance, “He gave the public what it longed for” is clear and idiomatic, even though it ends with a preposition; “He gave the public that for which it longed” avoids the problem but doesn't look like English. A sentence becomes unnecessarily obscure when it's filled with from whoms and with whiches. According to a widely circulated (and often mutated) story, Winston Churchill, reprimanded for ending a sentence with a preposition, put it best: “This is the sort of thing up with which I will not put.” [Revised 12 Jan. 2007.] ❞

Write and talk appropriate to your audience. Your audience in some cases might be your self. Determine what criteria you demand for a successful "talk exchange" such that shared knowledge may be produced, rather than actionable results (we should ignore implementation details).

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