Author Topic: A stickler for concise English shares a thought about language, grammar  (Read 8824 times)

Joe Carillo

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A letter from a new Forum reader whom I’ll call Amy A. (not her real name) to keep her privacy:

January 25, 2015

Dear Mr. Carillo,

I truly enjoy reading your articles, which I find most informative, as well as entertaining.

I am a stickler for concise grammar. But sometimes, although I intuitively know what the right form is, I am not quite sure how to explain precisely why it should be so.

When I was in elementary school, much more attention was given to the proper use of language. Outlining sentences, for instance, was an exercise I found immensely enlightening; sadly it is no longer employed as a tool in the teaching of proper grammar...

At any rate, I just wanted to thank you for including me in your mailing list, and wish you good health and happiness for 2015!

Sincerely,
Amy A.

My reply to Amy A.:

January 26, 2015
 
Dear Amy,
 
You’re most welcome, Amy, and I truly appreciate your compliment about my articles in Jose Carillo’s English Forum.
 
If by any chance you are the Amy A. of X ad agency back in the early 70s, then an earlier incarnation of mine has a clear recollection of you singing and the late Cesar A. strumming a guitar while sitting (or was it lying down?) on a conference table in the ad agency’s office along Ayala Avenue. You were a young, hotshot copywriter then so it’s not surprising at all that you were—and I’m sure even more so now after all these years—a stickler for concise grammar.
 
To intuitively know what the right form of language should be without knowing precisely why, one must have grown with that language from childhood and have an inborn gift as well for creative but clear expression. You are most fortunate to have had that kind of childhood and to have that gift, and—assuming that you are indeed the Amy I have in mind—to have put it to immensely good use in your professional career. As for me, I just happen to have made it a vocation to clarify the workings of English for those already using it or still learning to use it as a second or third language, and I’m delighted that a naturally English-savvy person like you enjoys and finds some use for the grammar lessons I’m doing for them.
 
Thank you for the feedback, Amy, and I also wish you a great and healthful year in 2015!
 
Sincerely yours,
Joe Carillo
 
P.S. Just call me Joe.