The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

My Photo
Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

24 June 2009

The importance of excellent grammar and syntax

"You should read this book (or watch this movie, etc); it was really good!"

To which I reply, "What do you mean, 'WAS good' -- is it no longer available for me to read (watch)...?"

Of course, in my silly example above, the first speaker makes the comment in the past tense because the reading (or watching) experience is in his past; stated correctly, though, the speaker means, "You should read this book; it IS really good!"

Incorrect grammar, syntax, and word choice sum as a pet peeve of mine; they expose the parties of a conversation to probable misinterpretation, and consequential problems. And one reason why my posts drip with academic exactitude -- the necessity is not to slip into jargon and catch-phrases etc.

Communication skills also expose the listener or reader or viewer to propaganda, as George Orwell showed us; although, good propaganda requires excellent communication skills. Go figure.

So why this post? Note this snippet from the Wall Street Journal...

"[The] Memphis, TN hospital said Tuesday that Steve Jobs received a liver transplant there and that his prognosis was 'excellent'..."

Um, what do you mean, "was excellent" -- his prognosis initially was excellent, but no longer is (excellent)? Something somehow changed for the worse? Or is your "was excellent" only a figure of speech, poor grammar and syntax?

I suspect the answer is the latter -- I doubt the hospital spokesperson to be Machiavellian -- and yet, Apple, in its quest for corporate secrecy and privacy, especially as it regards Steve Jobs's health, can be quite Machiavellian.

Which all means that the writer is guilty of slack analysis and lazy writing, and his editor did a lousy job of editing. And that we, the readers, are no closer to the truth of Steve Jobs's health than if the hospital spokesperson said nothing, and the WSJ reported that.

-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

Labels: ,

who's online