Friday, September 16, 2011

Gotham in the News

Our ghosts have weighed in on a heated topic: is it necessary to know grammar terminology to be a good writer? In a poll by Ragan's Russell Working, he received explosive and polarizing responses from our writers on both sides of the debate. With a mind favoring instinct over  formal instruction,  Charles Graeber replied, "Would you ever ask a painter if he needs to understand the physics of perspective? Does a speaker need to understand the Latin root of a word in order to employ that correctly? Sure, it might help -- but is it necessary?" Ron Finlay eloquently seconds with, "Knowing the terminology might add to your confidence, but you don't need to depend on it. It helps to know grammatical rules if you are to write clearly, but knowing the nomenclature is otiose." 

Equally passionate on the other side of the discussion is Gretchen Anderson, author of The Backyard Chicken, who starkly states, "If you make your living with words, you better damn well know how to use them." Todd Miller tends to agree and explains that fluency in terminology can be a powerful tool when communicating with clients and editors. Todd uses it when dissecting sentences much like how "...a doctor would use medical terminology to describe an ailment he or she diagnoses in a patient."

 So there you have it, whether you're a grammar snob or you just let your words go with the flow, you surely have your reasons. So tell us, which side of the debate do you agree with, and why?

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