atw: Re: Correct usage conundrum: "Match to" vs "Match with"

  • From: "Geoffrey Marnell" <geoffrey@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2010 18:09:58 +1100

Loosen up lads. Next you'll be saying that American spelling and punctuation is 
"incorrect". It's certainly not the same as our usage. Or maybe you'll be game 
and say that Shakespeare's English was "incorrect". Well, no-one writes like 
that these days, do they. So who is correct: Shakespeare or us? Or perhaps you 
think that the grammar of Yorkshire is "incorrect" because it is different from 
the grammar of the Home Counties (and hence Alan Bennett is a poor writer). If 
so, you are forgetting legitimate variety and unstoppable flux. One more 
example of a thousand possible examples: less than a hundred years ago, it was 
considered standard English to place a space between the last word in a 
sentence and the final question mark or exclamation mark. Was that practice 
"incorrect"? Or are we "incorrect" because we don't do that now ? Will you 
still be saying that "disinterested" means objective and impartial when 95% of 
the population understands the word to mean bored or lacking in interest? 
Perhaps a villain really is a serf, not a crook.
 It's really time to stop using words like "incorrect" and "wrong" when it 
comes to what is purely conventional and forever changing. Words like 
"unconventional" or "unusual" are far better. In which case media might well be 
a legitimate source (one of many) of information about conventional usage. And 
in which case descriptivist dictionaries like the Macquarie are better friends 
than old-fashioned prescriptivist dictionaries.
Let's go back to basics. Do you write to communicate? Or write to instantiate a 
set of supposedly immutable laws of grammar? If you want to write according to 
the so-called immutable rules of ninetieth-century grammar books, you risk 
communication breakdown as readers become increasingly distracted by what they 
perceive as quaint, odd or even stuffy. Put another way, if you write to 
communicate, it pays to adopt the language of your intended audience, whether 
you like it or not. Your prejudices shouldn't enter into the equation.
Here's to the Macquarie Dictionary, the only authoritative source for 
information about how Australians use their language. And why shouldn't we use 
our language? I suspect, Brian and Ken, that you would rather us Australians to 
spell "organise" as "organize". (Wasn't that the spelling of so-called standard 
English?) And you are no doubt tut-tutting at the "and" at the start of this 
sentence, even though it is a common practice and has been so for many hundreds 
of years, by writers renown and otherwise. Shakespeare too.
Finally, a pertinent quote from George Orwell, written in 1946:

" The defence of the English language … has nothing to do with setting up a 
‘standard English’ which must never be departed from [nor with] correct grammar 
and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one’s meaning clear 

Here, here. A grammatically perfect sentence punctuated majestically can still 
fail to get its message across. I'm with Orwell: it's time we worried more 
about communicating and less about what is supposedly correct and incorrect. 
Geoffrey Marnell
Principal Consultant
Abelard Consulting Pty Ltd
T: +61 3 9596 3456
F: +61 3 9596 3625
W:  <>
Skype: geoffrey.marnell


From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ken Randall
Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2010 3:42 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Correct usage conundrum: "Match to" vs "Match with"

I was using the media as an example of incorrect usage.

--- On Sat, 30/1/10, Brian Clarke <brianclarke01@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From: Brian Clarke <brianclarke01@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: atw: Re: Correct usage conundrum: "Match to" vs "Match with"
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Received: Saturday, 30 January, 2010, 2:59 PM

Only the Macq uses the media as an arbiter of correct usage. I use the media as 
Aunt Sallies at which to throw shies.
Matched 'against' is another possibility - as in sports contests.


Yahoo!7: Catch-up on your favourite Channel 7 TV shows easily, legally, and for 
free at PLUS7. Check it out 

Other related posts: