Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Trivium

Current Academics have been promulgating the use of what at best is "sloppy English". Namely that we should not penalize or even comment on poor Grammar. But the NY Times presents an interesting case where Grammar applies. Namely:

The debate over commas is often a pretty inconsequential one, but it was anything but for the truck drivers. Note the lack of Oxford comma — also known as the serial comma — in the following state law, which says overtime rules do not apply to:
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
Does the law intend to exempt the distribution of the three categories that follow, or does it mean to exempt packing for the shipping or distribution of them? Delivery drivers distribute perishable foods, but they don’t pack the boxes themselves. Whether the drivers were subject to a law that had denied them thousands of dollars a year depended entirely on how the sentence was read. If there were a comma after “shipment,” it might have been clear that the law exempted the distribution of perishable foods. But the appeals court on Monday sided with the drivers, saying the absence of a comma produced enough uncertainty to rule in their favor. It reversed a lower court decision.

Thus words and punctuation have consequences. There is a trend in schools that we should accept common usage of English because it is a fluid language and if some child makes up some phrase then we should not tell them otherwise. It would be threatening to them. Tell that to the folks who lost $10 million. Perhaps their attorneys should return to the Fifth Grade at Blessed Sacrament Grammar School. Sister Rosita drilled this into us then.

Words have meanings and words have consequences. Everywhere! God Bless Sister Rosita!

Also remember that the Trivium was the required study of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric, in that order, during the High Middle Ages. First, words mean something. Then, second, words that mean something alone can only mean something when assembled in the proper manner. Third, explaining your conclusion must be done in a rational and reasoned and articulate manner. Once you have mastered this you can get a College degree. Don't master these in the 14th Century and you shovel dung for a few decades at best!