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  #16  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Admin Dirk View Post
I was just reading your newly edited advice, and thinking "probably shouldn't apply to Roman numerals either".
I can't think of a situation in which I would need to write Roman numerals outside of teaching someone how to navigate them or doing harmonic analysis of music, neither of which has happened yet this century.

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Originally Posted by Admin Dirk View Post
The Kansas City Chiefs won Superbowl Ell Eye Vee by defeating the San Francisco Forty-niners by a score of 31-20.
Hey, you're the one whose user title says "Next year is Tampa!" I find it eerily prophetic that you knew we'd be signing half the New England Patriots for a last-dich effort at a Super Bowl.

On a more serious note, "Super Bowl LIV" is the event's name, and that overrides any actual grammar rules (never mind that LIV = 54, which is not between zero and ten), just as does starting a sentence with the lower case i in iPad or being named Jennifer 8. Lee. The 49ers are a case where I'd write around having to start a sentence with "49ers."

EDIT: The stuff I crossed out is incorrect. The AP style guide says to capitalize the i if it starts a sentence.

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Originally Posted by Admin Dirk View Post
English "rules" are so hard because we stole grammar and words from all over the world, and mashed them up into a common stew.
The rules that exist are all arbitrary and only exist because of inertia. Someone decades or centuries ago had the power to decree something, and now we're stuck with it.

My favorite thing I've heard about English is that it's the only language that has spelling bees because it's the only language that needs it. I know that this isn't true (there are Dutch spelling bees), but it says a lot about English that our language needs this.
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  #17  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 07:22 PM
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This is a great discussion.

Standard English is a rogue system guided by arbitrary rules and whims. Sure, there are some hard and fast guidelines, but a good deal of what we regard as "standardized writing" is mostly adherence to a particular style, regional dialect or class distinction. For example, punctuation marks inside of quotes ... sure, that works if you want to adhere to the standard of American English. There's nothing wrong about writing and punctuating like a USian, but who decided that the Yanks get to dictate everything about every word (ok, other than Pompeo, cuz he most certainly don't count)?

Write out "percent" or use the "%" sign? Well, until 2019 most U.S. editors would have told you to use "percent," and then all of the sudden they would have told you to use "%." Did the absolute correctness of language change overnight? No. The only thing that happened was a group of people from the Associated Press news agency got together and changed their style guidelines for recommended use. They just announced all of their big changes for 2020 this past week; and you know what the scandal was? After forbidding the use of "preheat" in recipes in 2019, they reversed their decision and said it is now recommended to use "preheat" in recipes (or presumably in warlock spells if you want the AP editors to be your gaming style guide gurus).

No disrespect for the AP styleguide editors. They are earnest about language and its use, and they are a smart, dedicated collective. But they are a product of their time and place, as we all are when it comes to English. (And geez, this group was capitalizing "internet" for years after all the cool kids had moved it to lower case.)

Oftentimes, you'll find that the "sacred rules" you were taught in school are really rather arbitrary codes, some with good reasoning behind them, some with bias behind them.

For me (and this is just one editor with one set of preferences), the best writers that I work with, the ones who can write circles around me even on their first draft, are not necessarily the best grammarians, but they are writers who are comfortable in their own "writing voice." If they know all the deep rules of grammar and get their distributive plurals right and apply flat adjectives where flat adjectives need applying, then they do it. If not, they might make a few minor mistakes ... but they write comfortably and knowledgeably as themselves. They don't reach for words or phrasings that aren't natural to them; however, they are constantly developing their range of comfort and knowledge. They tell compelling stories and know when to go long or short in an explanation or a dialogue. And, most importantly, they win their talent by reading, writing and having a good amount of the natural bard about them.

On this site, some of my favorite posts have had one or even several grammar errors, weird style choices and misspellings ... but they have been packed with an original idea, wording or character description that delights me (and I think others) to read.

As a writer, you are aiming for two things. The first is clarity, and good grammar can get you there. But please, never let some doubts about grammar (or, more importantly, arbitrary style) hinder your writing voice. That's yours to shape, play with and develop. A few mistakes won't break English.

In addition to some of the style tips posted above by Aethera and Ytterbium, here are two grammar books that I highly suggest. Both explore the concept of "what you need to know" and "why it is this way, go figure." (Just to be clear, I am not the writer of either of these guides nor do I have any financial interest or family member or friend or whatnot behind them. Heck, get them from your library first and skim over them before spending money on them.)

The Grammar Devotional, Mignon Fogarty
This is divided up into short, easily digested daily readings and covers everything from "if versus whether" to "snowclones" (one of my personal pet peeves).

Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies (and yes, the published title is, apparently, a "cleaner" version of the author's original title)[/URL]
An irreverent, take-no-prisoners attack on American English's stupid sacred cows, along with essential advice for kitting you out with some grammar essentials.

Go forth and post!
(And, yeah, feel free to edit and mock the heck out of the mistakes in this post, if you wish.)
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  #18  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by bananabadger View Post
Write out "percent" or use the "%" sign? Well, until 2019 most U.S. editors would have told you to use "percent," and then all of the sudden they would have told you to use "%." Did the absolute correctness of language change overnight? No. The only thing that happened was a group of people from the Associated Press news agency got together and changed their style guidelines for recommended use. They just announced all of their big changes for 2020 this past week; and you know what the scandal was? After forbidding the use of "preheat" in recipes in 2019, they reversed their decision and said it is now recommended to use "preheat" in recipes (or presumably in warlock spells if you want the AP editors to be your gaming style guide gurus).
I hate stuff like this. I have memos in my desk that date back to before I was born, and most of them are past People With Authority arbitrarily deciding they must rid the world of certain words (or in one case, the metric system).

I am currently not allowed to use the word issue in the sense of a problem or concern. Other words I've been lectured about during my career include meet, totally, and debuted. Go figure.
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  #19  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
... People With Authority arbitrarily deciding they must rid the world of certain words (or in one case, the metric system).

... editor of a magazine that goes worldwide.
... Well, that just sounds silly.
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Old May 3rd, 2020, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
I hate stuff like this. I have memos in my desk that date back to before I was born, and most of them are past People With Authority arbitrarily deciding they must rid the world of certain words (or in one case, the metric system).
I hear you. I had a client who insisted that the word "kids" could only be applied to goats. Why? He picked that up in J-school, and would enforce it without being able to explain it. (And, of course, the use of "kids" for human children goes back centuries.)

But not enforcing those arbitrary rules when you have the FINAL RED PEN OF POWER is the most difficult temptation, and I understand why people have succumbed to it. There are words and phrasings that the dark side of me would like to see banned forever. And there are also a few phrasings and words that our style sheet does ban (and I believe rightfully so) as being racist or insensitive, phrasings and words which a good portion of the nation still commonly uses.

So ... are you putting together the official RPG Crossing style sheet? Or does Explosive Runes already have one? Or maybe you are, HotsuSama? If so, that would be totally cool.
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  #21  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 09:22 PM
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... Well, that just sounds silly.
Attempts have been made. They were—fortunately—unsuccessful. It was the worst for (from?) us in the 1950s. Glad I hadn't been born yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bananabadger View Post
I hear you. I had a client who insisted that the word "kids" could only be applied to goats. Why? He picked that up in J-school, and would enforce it without being able to explain it. (And, of course, the use of "kids" for human children goes back centuries.)

But not enforcing those arbitrary rules when you have the FINAL RED PEN OF POWER is the most difficult temptation, and I understand why people have succumbed to it. There are words and phrasings that the dark side of me would like to see banned forever. And there are also a few phrasings and words that our style sheet does ban (and I believe rightfully so) as being racist or insensitive, phrasings and words which a good portion of the nation still commonly uses.
I've gotten the same flak for kids.

My favorite, which I couldn't remember earlier, was impact. I got a draft thrown back at me for that, complete with the word circled in red marker and "KABOOM!" hastily scribbled next to it. I still can't get away with that one.

I don't buy the logic behind banning preheat or kids, but to a degree I can understand it. Still, these words are ingrained in the language, and we might as well accept their usage, if for no other reason than variety. I can share from experience that what doesn't work against such people as we've described is bringing up the words sunrise and sunset, which are completely unscientific, as the world is not flat and the solar system is not geocentric, and, by the logic brought to the table by your client, my bosses, and the AP, should also be discarded. Oof, that discussion did not go well for me. Publishers can be surly.

Personally, I believe very strongly that okay is spelled as I just wrote it, not ok, OK, o.k., or O.K., but that's just my pet peeve, not an actual rule of anything, and I just quietly change it at work whenever it comes across my desk.

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So ... are you putting together the official RPG Crossing style sheet? Or does Explosive Runes already have one? Or maybe you are, HotsuSama? If so, that would be totally cool.
There was a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry dated a masseuse, and the whole plot was that Jerry couldn't get the woman to give him a back rub after work because she gave people back rubs all day. For similar reasons, I'm not getting involved in anything to do with an official RPGX style sheet. I'm happy to proofread something if asked, and I will find stuff if I do, but that's about as far as I see a need to go. I was an Outplay judge one year. I still feel a little bad about that.

Write clearly and have fun doing so. There's your style guide.
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Last edited by Ytterbium; May 5th, 2020 at 10:05 AM.
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  #22  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 09:28 PM
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Write clearly and have fun doing so. There's your style guide.
Best style guide ever.
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  #23  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 09:32 PM
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I'm only new to helping with ER so I can't claim much sway or insider knowledge. Pretty sure there isn't an 'official' style guide - not one I've yet seen at least. Make sure the spelling's solid and the treatment of matters like compound words are internally consistent, and that'll probably be the bulk of it.
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  #24  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
Write clearly and have fun doing so. There's your style guide.
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Originally Posted by bananabadger View Post
Best style guide ever.
This is my style guide. I'm testing out Grammarly to see if it helps a bit, but I reckon I'm mostly readable to begin with, and if I ever go to publish anything, well, that's why there's professional editors.
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Old May 3rd, 2020, 10:04 PM
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BTW, Atalla, I loved your "Not My Dinosaur" write-up in the Iron DM contest. Did you ever get to run that IRL?
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  #26  
Old May 4th, 2020, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by bananabadger View Post
So ... are you putting together the official RPG Crossing style sheet? Or does Explosive Runes already have one? Or maybe you are, HotsuSama? If so, that would be totally cool.
There's no way to make a stylesheet for RPGX, or even for ER, it'd be impossible to try and implement, and there's no point. We write for fun. Writing well for fun would be my preference, and anyone who wishes to attempt to discuss "better" ways of conveying ideas is welcome to hang out in this corner, it's definitely for them. I'm certainly not going to go around smacking people and telling them to get themselves over here in order to correct their ridiculous grammar issues (though there are one or two who come to mind I would love to smack in such a fashion).
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Originally Posted by Ytterbium View Post
Write clearly and have fun doing so. There's your style guide.
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Best style guide ever.
Yes!

I have also been thinking about how to add a section about how language rules change over time, and Oxford commas making more sense logically than the earlier rule was going to be part of the punctuation bit at least, as well as some commentary about the punctuation inside and outside parenthetical statements. There's a certain fluidity that is natural and normal, without going full chat-speak with it, and I'm fully aware of things I have chosen to do contrary to what is the publishing industry's standard "official" English grammar. But since that part would be entirely subjective, I'm not sure if it's valid for me to post just my opinion about it. 'They' as a singular pronoun is entrenched now, if not specifically established (to my knowledge), so that would fall into the language changing aspect of my subject/verb agreement bit in the works.

FYI @bananabadger - The second recommended book link you gave gives me an error page.

Last edited by Aethera; May 4th, 2020 at 08:56 AM.
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  #27  
Old May 4th, 2020, 09:11 AM
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FYI @bananabadger - The second recommended book link you gave gives me an error page.
Thanks, Aethera! I've corrected the PDF link
And here's an indiebound link just in case
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Old May 4th, 2020, 09:51 AM
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Kudos to anyone writing "a language guide for fun and spite". I feel like I should just link to that and close up shop.
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Old May 4th, 2020, 11:49 AM
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Please include the sections on commas! I already feel like I use a lot of them, and Grammarly is throwing in even more. If you read it out loud it just sounds like too many pauses to be healthy.

@ bananabadger - I had a had game set in a dinosaur world here on RPGX before I went on my extended leave of absence. Never really got to see the dinosaurs much though.

I'm working on setting up a game now that originated from a 2014 or 15 Iron DM, and I'm super excited about it! But I'll get back to those dinosaurs in due time.
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Old May 4th, 2020, 02:28 PM
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Please include the sections on commas! I already feel like I use a lot of them, and Grammarly is throwing in even more. If you read it out loud it just sounds like too many pauses to be healthy.
Do use the Oxford comma. Pretty please?

Don't use a comma for compound predicates (a noun with multiple verbs): "I like to fight and drink" is correct; "I like to fight, and drink" is not. An excitable dwarf with below average INT would probably say "I like to fight—and drink!" This is fine for dialogue, and a dash is the better choice in that case. It might also read well with italics: "I like to fight and drink!"

Do use a comma for joining independent clauses with a conjunction (noun-verb, and noun-verb): Ytter came up with a plan, but Atalla thwarted it.

Don't use a comma between subjects and predicates. This sentence is wrong: The big red dog, ran into the house. (This one is surprisingly common in longer, more complex sentences.)

Do use a comma for comparative proverbs: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Put commas on both sides of appositives, which are descriptive asides in sentences: That Ytterbium guy, who never stopped harping about grammar, was back at it again.

In all honesty, commas after sentence-starting phrases like "Once upon a time" or "Because ______" are optional. I would probably not use a comma after "once upon a time" but would with a because statement at the start of a sentence:

Once upon a time there was a halfling who wanted to rule the world.

Because I've been an editor for almost 20 years, I feel qualified to offer grammar suggestions.

You don't need a comma if the because statement is the second part of the sentence: I feel qualified to offer grammar suggestions because I've been an editor for almost 20 years.

Dialogue:

Ytter said, "I like chocolate milk."

"I like chocolate milk," said Ytter.

Ytter asked, "Do you like chocolate milk?"

"Do you like chocolate milk?" asked Ytter.

Quotes:

If I say "I like chocolate milk" enough times, maybe some will magically appear in my fridge.

Beyond this, which is all I can think of while I'm supposed to be working on spreadsheets, the best advice I can offer is to read your sentence out loud and stick commas where there are natural pauses in narrative and consider dashes or ellipses for pauses in dialogue if sticking in a comma would break one of the above rules.
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Last edited by Ytterbium; May 4th, 2020 at 04:48 PM. Reason: Can't even follow my own comma rules.
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