Good Writing, Bad Writing ?
Despite the modern desire to be easy and casual, Americans from time to time give thought to the language they use, to grammar, vocabulary,and official languages. And, as on other issues, they divide into two parties. The larger, which includes everybody from the plain people to the professional writer, takes for granted that there is a right way to use words and construct sentences and many wrong ways. The right way is believed to be clearer,simpler, more logical, and hence more likely to prevent error and confusion. Good writing is easier to read; it offers a pleasant combination of sound and sense.
Against this majority view is the doctrine of an opposing minority, who make up for their small number by their great learning and their place of authority in the school system and the world of scholarship. They are the professional linguists,who deny that there is such a thing as correctness. The language, they say, is what anybody and everybody speaks.Hence there must be no interference with what they regard as a product of nature. They denounce all attempts at guiding choice.
Within the profession of linguists there are, of course,fighting factions, but, on this conception of language as a natural growth with which it is criminal to interfere, they are at one. In their arguments one finds appeals to feelings of social equality (all words and forms are equally good) and individual
freedom. These beliefs further suggest that the desire for correctness, the very idea of better or worse in speech, is what is left over from noble and times. To the linguists, change is the only rule to be obeyed. They consider it to be equal with life and accuse their critics of being clock-reverses, enemies of freedom, menaces to"life".
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