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Correctness

 

Disciplines Argument > Virtues of Style > Correctness

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Know and use the rules of language.

  • Acquire a good vocabulary by reading widely, listening to good speakers and individual study. Know both the meaning of words and also how to pronounce them.
  • Know the parts of speech and understand the rules of syntax whereby these parts are combined together. Know how to punctuate.
  • Know the correct usage of the language, where words may be used and where their meaning is unclear.

Above all, be curious. Keep on wondering about the subtler points of language and maintain it within your field of interest.

Example

Them is the animals what I was talking of. (incorrect)

Those are the animals about which I was speaking. (correct)

Discussion

Talking correctly shows that you understand the language and that you can say what you mean. Particularly amongst upper classes, intelligentsia and academics, correct use of language is also a subtle signal that 'I am well-educated and hence one of you'.

Vices of correctness are very commonplace, including using apostrophe's in plurals (like this), mispronunciation, poor syntax and so on. The very complexity of the rules of language makes error not only commonplace but often unrealized. These sentences, no doubt, contain many such errors.

A time when it is useful to use incorrect language is when you are seeking to create harmony with the other person by echoing their modes of speech. Some people ('chameleons') do this naturally. As long as it is not seen as parody, this can be an effective way of bonding with others.

Correctness is also known as Purity.

See also

Use of Language

 

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