Re: Communications on STMFC

Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>

JP and friends,

As a former journalist, I often cringe and the poor usage I see on web posts. It makes me wonder if everyone was asleep in English class. Then I reread some of my own posts and see the mistakes I make. Being both ADD/HA and mildly dyslexic quite often means that I miss things I should have caught, especially extra words. Fortunately, the embarrassment is soon forgotten . . . until the next time.

That said, let's get back to freight cars.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff (Former Coast Guard Photojournalist First Class)

On 5/22/14 3:05 PM, 'JP Barger' bargerjp@... [STMFC] wrote:


This memo isn't directly about specifics of freight car design, construction or usage in the steam era, but, by your leave, it is on the subject of communicating the same information aforementioned. This morning, in reading an especially well written message on STMFC, I noticed the use of a possessive pronoun with an apostrophe. A person much more facile in the history of English than I might know whether earlier versions of English actually used apostrophes in possessive pronouns which were later dropped for the reason of efficiency. (same info transmitted; less symbols). Anyhow, the current rules in English say apostrophes aren't used in all possessive pronouns.


The above reminded me to address this note to all of you on the steam list, a note I have been framing in my mind for some time. I have watched the use of proper and improper English for several years now, not only on this list, but on several others, and, of course, in reading all sources of the printed word. The latest crazy English comes in machine-made TV captions and immediate dialog translations. Some of it comes out highly amusing as if the caption machine had a terrific sense of humor, even if it's terribly wrong.


What I think I have observed with this steam list is that over the years the English being displayed is gradually improving! I surely hope that this perceived result isn't being influenced by people less able to express themselves correctly in writing dropping out!  Experiments always have to be designed and monitored to make sure that what you think you have learned is actually so. There's about a million ways that any experiment can deceive the experimenters. But, currently, I don't see the gross number of mistakes in writing that I saw a few years ago when I started reading STMFC.


All of the foregoing makes me wonder if one of the virtues of having active chat groups is a group learning experience, not just on the specialized subject of the group, but in more general ways, socially, and with the grease of social relations, namely communications. If our English is better, on average, in the group, it could mean that subconsciously, we're learning from each other, involuntarily, better, more effective ways to communicate.


There are quite a few members of this group who write much better than I do. Some have obvious highly capable writing styles, much to be admired for clarity and also for wit. Notice that I'm not mentioning anyone's name except my own which is inevitable, since rules require us to sign our submissions. But many of you already know the members who write well and clearly, and for those who hadn't thought about this subject, perhaps this memo will encourage you to consider it.


I'm suspicious that through the back and forth of the STMFC dialog, we're copying the good qualities of other writers and gradually shedding some of our own bad writing habits and obvious mistakes. Has anyone else reason to share this idea, or do you think that my perception is not real? The whole situation here is that we're operating without benefit of any English learning props, no classes, no assignments, no official teachers, no structure and yet my perception is that we're getting better at it. Anyway, congratulations to all of you in the event that this idea might be correct. Remember, I'm the fellow whose friends say is not often right, but never in doubt.


One thing that I think I know is that if you speak more clearly and capably, then you will automatically write better. And the converse is true also. These two means of communicating are inextricably linked.


Thanks for thinking about this and a shoutout to each of you for what seems like better communication. Things seem to be going better here at STMFC University! 




P.S. I hope while you read the above you don't discover too many English bloopers! 

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