absolute clarity

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Thu Dec 9 23:30:27 UTC 2010

The response that Arnold quotes below with such irritation had only to do with the small aspect of his question about the judgments appropriate for a teacher of freshman english. It responds to the English composition portion of the thread

 There was no "hijacking" of the thread--the main thrust of the thread has been about the degree to which VS's particular example caused problems for people. Some found no problems. Some found minor problems, which they said they quickly solved.

What Arnold said in his posting--that some people have more difficulty than others with such passages--has never been a question here, I think. Even Victor said that he had no "difficulties" with the passage he quoted.

There are some interesting questions about the various conditions, linguistic and paralinguistic, that create such problems, some of which have been discussed here,  though Arnold doesn't really go into that. I didn't comment on any of what he did say because it seemed pretty obvious. I did invoke his name as an enemy of prescriptivism, but I don't see how that was a problem.
------Original Message------
From: Arnold Zwicky
Sender: ADS-L
ReplyTo: ADS-L
Subject: [ADS-L] absolute clarity
Sent: Dec 9, 2010 5:51 PM

ok, i officially give up.  i write something that's pretty much as nuanced as you could want, and talk about considerateness in writing etc., and i get this in return:

 >There is more than one goal in writing effectively--absolute linguistic clarity is an unambiguous virtue only in legal writing (and then not always attainable).<

i never talked about absolute linguistic clarity (and, indeed, have written many times about why that's a silly goal).  and now the thread has been hijacked onto this topic.

once again i've been understood as taking not the position thatt i was careful to espouse, but some other (much more extreme) position that a reader/commenter was expecting me too take.

i'm sorry, but this is a toxic environment.  and once again i'm deeply sorry that i took part in an exchange here.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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