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The Mudcat Cafesj

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Sleepy Rosie BS: World's best grammatical howlers (91* d) RE: BS: World's best grammatical howlers 20 Feb 09

Wolfhound Person: "(For those who don't know, the phrase "sausage, egg, and chips" may have one or two commas according to taste. The second one is the optional "Oxford" comma)"

I didn't know that about the 'Oxford comma'. And despite what may have come over as something of a rant in my last two postings on this thread, I also find it jolly interesting! ;-)

One of the things I never used to do - as I believed it to be bad English, was begin a sentence with 'And'. Well, now it appears to be acceptable. So I use it in instances where it functions pragmatically to prevent otherwise potentially lengthy sentences becoming unweildly for the reader.

A beautifully constructed piece of English prose is of course a genuine delight to read. And I rather wish that I hadn't myself, missed out such great chunks of fundamental early learning in the basics of how to form good written English.

So, as said, while I take absolutely no issue with those who find the details of the English language fascinating, and nor do I take issue with the real value of having at ones disposal the skills of accurately expressing oneself via the written word. The only thing I personally object to is where academic rigour is uneccesarily applied by self-appointed 'authorities', to informal conversational contexts such as internet fora. For this I fear, can be genuinely intimidating and alienating to those who do not have a particularly good background in written English at their disposal. And of course the somewhat sad irony of this, is that Mudcat of all places is a 'folk' forum... And without wanting to engage into the details of 'what is folk', and without having to resort to my OED I obviously already know that 'folk' refers to "the common people". Now while I don't know what "common people" means to most others, but I am fairly sure that "the common people" (in my neck of the woods at least), don't genereally go around correcting each others minor grammatical errors...

Many Catters come from well educated backgrounds, many of them are involved in academia at one level or another. And while this in itself makes Mudcat a highly interesting and erudite place for the most part, it could also be intimidating to those who don't come from similar backgrounds or have the same degree of mastery over written English as the majority here may do.

Otherwise, it's all great stuff. And in fact I see examples of delightfully formed prose on Mudcat, most days. I like it when I find someone using an interesting word that I don't understand. I look it up, and hey presto, I now have another word at my own disposal.

So on the 'pro' side of correct English useage, I object *strongly* to the media (and *especially* the Beeb "British Broadcasting Service") taking lax liberties with our language. I disagree strongly with the adoption of American pronounciation amongst 'British information services'. Not because I dislike American pronounciation. But we have standard English pronounciation which works perfectly well as it stands and it requires no alteration that would serve any useful purpose.

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