1-19-07-bhelmbre-engl134-w07-FalseRulesandWhatisTrue -...

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Chapter 9 "2n",hc t. Sueak onlv when you're called and act polite; don't dare to miss one day of school. Watch your language, say words right & @ ([ - Don't be the child who aches to fight, the one tirho yearns to break the rules Kcep cvery anger coiled in tight Lice proud, although you are not white Don t let them see vou act a fool LZ'a tch your language, say words right Keep ever) anger coiled in tight RICHARD MARIUS (1933-1999) Language Matters 3*,r/ False Rules and What Is True about Them CONSIDER THIS R chard UariLs was born lrl Mace1 Tennessee and died in Belmont Massachusetts Ivl;lrius Lvorked as a newspaper reporter then taught at Cettysburg College the U?Lersii\ 0' Tenne5see and Harvsra where he also was the director of the ex3os ton i\riting program His Mork appeared in many periodicals including Dcedo ,s Cqrislion Century and Esquire He gave an indication of his writing process In an interview wth Conkmporar). Autnors "My work is most influenced by my observation of people I revise far too much, too compulslvely, often by printing oiit mv drafts and filling in revisions by hand and afterwards plugging them back into the computer In his essay on rules, Marius makes a number of claims about why we have established rules in English How many of the rules you write bv are on his list of false rules7 Englisii ha5 nies established bt centuries cf habit They were not written by the niovini; tingers ot God on tablets of stone Some of them are irrational-as all habits nre But break them and you make it hard for rmders aid yourself L~'1ieii ou 1 iolatti the rules, readers may think you are ignorant and therefore not ~orth tlic:: time Yes, that attitude is unfair but os Jolin F Kei inedy fre- Marius False Rules and What Is True About Thein 581 them-although to my horror I discover now and then that some of then1 make their way into print! Alas, many people-including too many teachers-compiica te matters by making up false rules. I once asked a group of high school writing teachcrs tc tell me the most annoying mistakes made by their students. One teacher said, "I had it when my students use 'pretty' as an adverb." I said, "In English it's pre~~,' hard to avoid doing that." And I long ago lost count of the teachers \>,lie li<ii,? told me proudly that they keep their students from splitting infiiiitiires False rules oppress writers and may make prose sound stilted and .E.OII~P how wrong, Any examination of published prose wiil show that profcssiona! writers break these false "rules" all the time. Yet they have a vigorous life. Writing is a complicated business, one of the most difficult acts of the ha- man brain. False rules seem to grant security, to reduce writing to a forniul;~ that anybody can understand, to make it less threatening, to reduce succesh to r?
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1-19-07-bhelmbre-engl134-w07-FalseRulesandWhatisTrue -...

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