Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

English is tough but its "grammer" is even tougher

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
English looks very tough and its "grammer" seems even tougher.
I do not mean the "grammer" as the "grammar" but the "grammer" 
as a non-traditional spelling of the word "grammar" introduced 
by Scott Maxwell in his two messages of 2 Sep 2003 devoted to 
better English for engineers.  Thanks!!

The following is the list of this and other upgrading of the 
English Spelling in those messages: "grammer" (4 times), 
"intented", "otherwords", "momuments", "techinical" (2 times), 
"sophmore", "sypathize", and "sentances". 

One of the Scott's messages was addressed to Alden Manipula 
who also engaged non-traditional "sentace", "sentances", 
"ridiculouos", and "legelese" in his response.

Gail Kelley who, actually, started the discussion on 
engineering schools that "put a very low premium on teaching 
engineers to speak and write correctly… which is one reason 
engineers get very little respect", used only one irregular 
word "polical" in the short message of 31 Aug 2003 against my 
usage of the word-combination "aspired position".

However, my search in Google for the word-combination "aspired 
position" resulted in 29600 entries.  It is widely used in 
different personnel questionnaires and human recourses related 

What a pity!

Write safely,

Valentin Shustov, Ph.D., P.E.

Original Message----- 
From: valentin.shustov(--nospam--at)
Sent: at 17:40:00 on 29 Aug 2003
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Advance Degrees and Structural Engineering 

I agree with Dennis Wish on the necessity of educating people, 
primarily, of U.S. for the structural engineering and other 
similar jobs rather than using cheap foreign brains and 
skills. However, I am skeptical about a possibility of any 
dramatic improvement in this direction unless the following 
improvements in the upper branches of government take place: 

Any aspirant for the U.S. presidency or for a gubernatorial 
position in states like California should:

1. Pass an IQ test. 
2. Be licensed (like, e.g., CE or SE) for the aspired 


Valentin Shustov

On 31 Aug 2003, Gail Kelley wrote: 

From: GSKWY(--nospam--at)
 To: seaint(--nospam--at)
 Subject: Re: Advance Degrees and Structural Engineering 

A good understanding of the English language would be a handy 
thing for anyone in the US, even if they are not aspiring to a 
polical position. 

"aspired" is not an adjective.  It is the inflected form of 
the intransitive verb "to aspire".   

As in "He aspired to the position". 

Unfortunately,  engineering schools put a very low premium on 
teaching engineers to speak and write correctly.  Which is one 
reason engineers get very little respect.       

Gail Kelley

On 2 Sep 2003, Scott Maxwell wrote:

From: Scott Maxwell smaxwell(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: English is tough 

So, let me get this straight... 

After we went through this whole bit (by some) that too much 
time in undergraduate engineering education is wasted on 
non-engineering things like humanities (which includes English 
to my knowledge), we have decide that colleges don't do enough 
to "teach engineers to speak and write correctly," eh?  (And 
it still bothers me to no end that to my knowledge the comma 
is supposed to be inside the quotation marks for "proper" just ain't be lookin' write...pun and mistake 
intented)  No wonder schools can't get it right...we don't 
even seem to really know what we want (other than to make 
future engineering students attend college for about 25 years 
to the cost of $1.5 million so that they can become experts 
at EVERYTHING meaning that we [the engineering profession] 
don't have to expend any effort to mentor, train, or educate 
our young engineers).

Now, this is were I will point out that in my mind (in 
otherwords, to my understanding) things like being able to 
read and write correctly are supposed to be taught to kid 
PRIOR to entering college.  Thus, for all intents and 
purposes, engineers should be just as well spoken (and 
written) as any other profession, with the exception of those 
that major in English.  The primary difference MIGHT be that 
engineering schools don't REINFORCE what was taught in K-12 as 
well as some other majors do. After all, we tend to spend most 
of our class time dealing with numbers rather than words.  
Thus, since engineers tend to get a nice 4 year period 
of little writing, we are allowed to get sloppy with our use 
of the English language. 

And, FWIW, I personally don't buy the notion that engineers 
don't get respect because we don't speak or write correctly.  
I personally maintain that the biggest reasons that we don't 
get respect is that 1) not too many people really understand 
what engineers do and 2) we don't really do it for the 
respect, unlike some architectural designers that do elaborate 
designs that end up being momuments to their egos (not all do 
this but many do...I have dealt with quite a few even in my 
young career). 


Ypsilanti, MI

On 2 Sep 2003, Alden Manipula wrote:
From: "Alden Manipula" amanipula(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: English is tough 

Technical writing was a required class when I went school, 
which wasn't = 
too long ago.  It was only a semester and was, IMHO, a very 
good class.  We 
worked on writing engineering reports, manuals, letters to 
clients, etc. = 
We basically practiced to write short, concise, to the point 
documents.  = 
But what railroaded me was when I started working. 

I would write my letters and reports that explained things 
simply.  = 
Doing my best to do what I was taught in school.  When my boss 
would proof read = 
them they always came back with a lot of red marks that 
resulted in my report 
being substantially longer and not concise at all. =20 

For example, the following sentace:  The beam is exhibiting a 
greater then one inch at midspan.

Why do I have to write a run on sentence to explain all that 
when all = 
supporting information is already in the paragraph?  
Basically, I was = 
told I 
had write like this because of lawyers who nit pick sentances 
in a court 
room.  Now, I've never been in court to defend a sentence 
before, but = 
this seems ridiculouos. =20 

I think part of the problem is most engineers think they have 
to write = 
in legelese to cover their butts. 

Go Blue. 

Alden Manipula

On 2 Sep 2003, Scott Maxwell wrote:

From: Scott Maxwell smaxwell(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: English is tough 


Technical writing was also a required course while I was at 
Michigan as an undergrad.  I also had to take a freshman 
English class.  But, then the freshman English class was much 
more of a composition/creative writing/writing class that 
something more "technical" like grammer.  The grade in that 
class was more a function of pleasing the instructor by 
writing in a style that they liked rather then "writing 

I also had to write techinical reports for my basic 
geotect/soils class and for my hydraulics class.  Again, the 
format and techinical content of the reports was much more 
important than the least in the scores/grades.  I 
also had a variety of other classes here and there that 
had some sort of written report (did a paper on the Cypress 
Viaduct collapse during the Loma Prieta earthquake in course 
covering design for dynamic forces).

The last class that I had that really covered the "technical" 
aspect of the English language was my freshman English class 
in high school.  I did not make the honors English class that 
year, which like the honors English classes I had as sophmore 
and junior was more of a composition/writing and literature 
course rather than things like grammer.  To be honest, I 
consider my freshman high school English course better and 
much more useful than anything that I had in any of the honors 
English course that I took. 

As to writing on the job, I understand and sypathize.  But, in 
reality, that is nothing.  I am helping someone out doing a 
little research on car emission issues.  As a result, I had to 
read parts of the 1977 Clean Air 
Act.  Let's just say that reading the law out of Congress 
(full of lawyers and "legal speak") made reading _ANY_ model 
building code provision seem crystal clear.  It was only about 
6 pages of stuff to read, but there were so many run on 
sentances and other "legal speak" that my head was literally 
hurting.  No wonder lawyers make so much money...any one that 
can sit there and read (or write) that blather deserves to be 
paid large sums of money.  Just six pages of it and I was 
looking for the nearest cliff to jump off managed to 
be mind numbing and painful at the same time!! 


Ypsilanti, MI