atw: Re: Youse

  • From: "Terry Dowling" <Terrence.Dowling@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2010 12:56:24 +0800

high jeffrey,


eye didn sey hee wos tryin to be eleet. I just said that inglish is hour
languige, and aye bee leave their are write and rong weys of yousing it.
I except tthat ewe doant agry wiv that.


I believe it was you who raised the issue of why don't we deride folk
for not knowing enough physics. I pointed out that we might if we were
experts and they were pretending to be. I don't deride people for not
knowing enough English, but I do feel free to criticise those who
pretend to be well-versed, but don't show their skills.


I know of a lot of folk who are a lot smarter than me, but whose English
is crap. That's why they aren't (or shouldn't be) technical writers, and
I am. They design and fix electronics or do other highly technical
things that, despite me having an electrical engineering degree, I could
never do. If they want to deride my engineering skills, go ahead. The
good thing is, they know enough English to pick up some of my mistakes
and I know enough engineering to pick up some of theirs.


I really couldn't give a toss how people use language in their
conversations, but if a manual said "Youse of got to make sure the
principle circuit braker..." -- unless there was a lot of humour in the
rest of the manual, I'd seriously doubt the quality of the product.


I'm saying that rather than all of us moving to the lowest common
denominator as it seems you would prefer, those of us who are
professional writers should comply with commonly accepted rules, as
decreed by commonly accepted authorities such as whatever dictionary we
choose and whatever style manual or other guides we may choose. At least
if some of us get things "right", others may be able to learn. That way
more folk may be able to improve their skills rather than deskilling the
rest of us. 


The best way of communicating is using the best and most appropriate
word for your meaning. Confusing principle and principal is not the best
way of communicating. If people don't know any better, it is possibly
the best way for them, but they should not be professional writers.


And, yes, if the commonly accepted dictionaries start saying that youse
is the standard plural of you, with you only being singular, then I'll
start using it, too. 


But as I said before "non-standard" is dictionary speak for that word
you don't use for language.


I really think that you are starting to enter weasel-word territory when
you don't like 'wrong' or 'incorrect'. Ask an English teacher if there
are rights and wrongs in language. Maybe there are fewer in





From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Geoffrey
Sent: Wednesday, 3 February 2010 11:55 AM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse


Terry, two points:


The Altona lad who uses "youse' is not trying to be an elite writer.


Why should I be advocating the "elimination of one or the other of
to/too, principle/principal, compliment/complement, effect/affect...
because so many people use them in the wrong way". For a start, I don't
use the word "wrong" when it comes to language. There is conventional
use and unconventional use. Secondly, how many is "many"?. If a critical
mass of users use "principle" for both "principle" and "principal", then
yes, I would jettison the distinction. As I said on Monday, I am no
longer using the en dash for most of my audiences because they will not
understand its use. Likewise transition words like "disinterested" and
"regular".  What is the point in writing "regular" and meaning
"periodically" when most of my readers will think I mean "frequently".
Likewise,  why write "principal" when, say, 90% of my readers won't
understand it because it has fallen into the archaic or obsolete
categories? I'm not advocating the distinction now, just on the grounds
that some people confuse the distinction. But if, at some time, the
distinction is not understood by most of my audience, then, yes, goodbye
to the distinction. Just as I've said goodbye to "regular".


As I keep on saying, it comes done to communication, not to some weird
concept of linguistic correctness.





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 Terry Dowling
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 12:49 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse

I'm sure there is a band of elite physicists who do turn up (look down)
their noses at folk attempting to be elite physicists, but without the
skill to back them up.


If you remember the TV national IQ test from a few years back, there was
a comment on the station web site from someone saying something along
the lines of "I just got a PhD in English, yet my IQ is only 90. Should
I be worried?" Someone (an elite physicist, perhaps) replied that the
universtiy that issued the PhD should be more worried.


Let's face it. These days most of us a professional autists. We
specialise into a narrow field and know very little about much else.
However, living in an English speaking country, the language is one of
the base measures, giving the reading and writing of the three R's. I
know we all tend to get a little snobby about people who can't add up,
too -- that being the final R.


Now, Geoff, are you also rooting for combining (or elimination of one or
the other) of to/too, principle/principal, compliment/complement,
effect/affect... because so many people use them in the wrong way?



So why do we turn up our noses at the folk who got mediocre English
training, but not at those who got mediocre physics training?


Other related posts: