Everyone Doesn't Use Proper Grammar

2006-04-19 11:06 - Rants

I get a number of magazines that I read over breakfast each morning. This morning, in reading a real paper-and-ink magazine sitting on my table, I ran into one of my major peeves. One that's much worse for being perpetrated by a "real journalist" in a "real publication". Let me give a quick excerpt from the article.

According to our study, baseball season in its entirety will cost companies more than $10 billion in lost productivity. That's right, $10 billion


abuse of language
2006-04-20 06:34 - bitdiddle

It is a presumption of engineers, logicians, and other right brain types, that humans are rational and think logically. Evidence is mounting that they do not. I'm certainly not an expert in English but I surmise that the sentence is correct grammatically, but not logically, according to assumptions you made about the context.

Compound all of this with the fact that logically truth is not two valued, as ideologues, lawyers, and business school decision tree professors would have us believe, one can see why language is tough.

Bill Woods wrote ( see http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/contextsummary/102380/0 ) an excellent paper related to this that's full of interesting examples of the abuse of logic in language. Consider that most people conflate and and or.

For programmers this make life hard :)

2007-10-16 23:50 - Egueule

Hello, is your title itself meant to be bad grammar too? I'm asking this because someone I know wrote the following paragraphs about it in a language forum:

"The English sentence in that link is intended to serve as an ironic illustration of English grammar abuse . It is not true in English that Everyone Doesn't Use Proper Grammar (I most earnestly hope that it is not true, anyway.) When used according to English rules, it only means personne ne l'emploie pas correctement. If you mean that some people use it incorrectly and some do not, you must change the placement of not in English, to Not Everyone Uses English Grammar Correctly." Source.

Forgive me for asking what probably seems like a fairly vasic question, but I'm not a native English speaker and I would really like to know. :-)

Thank you very much!

Yes, irony!
2007-10-17 11:08 - arantius

The title of this post was intentionally worded incorrectly, as in the behavior it discusses. The English sentence "everyone does not use proper grammar" is a direct statement about the entire population of the earth. People frequently word their statements this way, both in speech and writing, when what they mean is "not everyone does use proper grammar". It may seem like a minor point, but rearranging the words in a sentence totally changes the meaning! Usually, it's still obvious because the re-worded, incorrect, version is so utterly wrong that an intelligent human being can decipher the true meaning. But, in many other cases, the problem is more subtle, and difficult or impossible to decipher correctly.

2007-10-17 11:13 - arantius

Well, now I see that my original blog post was totally screwed up. The bit I meant to comment on was the statement (by the author of the original article) that "... every day of baseball season isn't a work day."

This, I wrote but somehow lost, is wonderful! There's hundreds of days in the baseball season, and that makes hundreds of days that are not work days!" Oh, whoops, no the author just has horrible grammar. What he means is "not every day of baseball season is a work day." Some are, but some are not. The original statement, however, says that all days that are part of the baseball season are not work days, which is simply not true.

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