[lit-ideas] Re: grades & kleenex

  • From: Harold Hungerford <hh@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 21:19:23 -0700

The tin-ear test is reasonable as a way of accounting for one's own 
prejudices. The test cannot reasonably be made the basis for 
quasi-moral judgments on "good" vs. "bad" grammar. Such judgments, in 
the past, have usually been part of a strategy to keep the lower orders 
in their putative place. They still are. "Ugly" writing usually 
betokens a non-reader, and non-readers, for the dedicated reader, are 
distinctly the lower orders.

There are other, and better, grounds for sneering at the George Bushes 
of the world.

Harold Hungerford
Santa Rosa, California

On May 6, 2004, at 8:41 PM, David Ritchie wrote:

Thank you for your explanations, Harold and Judy.  They explain what I
already understood, but I thank you for taking the time to write them.
Judy's lists of examples will come in handy at some point.

I stand by my first post, to the last.  I think the solution fails the
ugliness test.  It's no use telling me that language changes and so we 
adapt.  Of course, of course.  I have taught courses on the history of
English.  But when fingers scratch the blackboard, when people write 
with a tin ear, using the language as if it were a runabout from
Rent-A-Wreck, I expostulate uselessly.  It's a habit.

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