Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Ironic sentence fragment during proofreading rant

"Proofread everything a hundred times and have one other person proofread it. Someone who got really good grades in English."

Paul Nanian
Monday, January 26, 2004

This hasn't bee fixed either.

On the FogBUGZ site

"What is FogBUGZ?

FogBUGZ 3.0 is a system for managing software projects designed by software development guru Joel Spolsky."




-Apparently FogBUGZ is only usable by projects designed by Joel....

apw
Monday, January 26, 2004

I'm not getting it.

Alex.ro
Monday, January 26, 2004

Blogs are a different medium than resumes and different rules apply.

I must admit that FogBugz description is pretty whacked, though.

Mister Fancypants
Monday, January 26, 2004

I mean the OP's point.

Alex.ro
Monday, January 26, 2004

"Someone who got really good grades in english" is a clause - it has no verb.

The two statements should be separated by a dash.

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 26, 2004

" Someone who got really good grades in English."  is a sentence fragment.  It has a subject but lacks a predicate.  It is thus ironic.  It is part of an argument for good grammar while, itself being an example of poor grammar.

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, January 26, 2004

That cracks me up.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Monday, January 26, 2004

OP has too much time on his hands. What's fine for a blog article is not fine for a cover letter.

pdq
Monday, January 26, 2004

http://www.fogcreek.com/FogBUGZ/index.html is not a blog.

OK, one more time. It is not a blog.

It is a marketing page for a commercial piece of software.

ad absurdium... Would you buy a piece of software from a a company that can't even be bothered describe it in proper, grammatically correct English?

Tapiwa
Monday, January 26, 2004

PDQ - you're generally right, except in a rant about proofreading. It's doubly ironic because the sentence fragment was the critical part about "someone who got good grades in English."

There's an internet law about making spelling mistakes in spelling flames - Joel just proved it to the nth degree.

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 26, 2004

T,

Ok, it's not a blog, it's a marketing piece. Whatever.

However, I think what he wrote, although is a fragment and not technically correct, is suitable for the use in informal writing.

I frankly didn't notice it and when I saw it pointed out, though it's ok. It's one of those cases where it's ok to break the rules if you know you're doing it.

If it makes you think he's not careful, and by association his product isn't very good then it probably was a mistake and he misjuded his audience.

pdq
Monday, January 26, 2004

Correct me if I'm wrong, but he actually says nothing about "grammar" in his post... just spelling.  So saying this is the pot calling the kettle black isn't necessarily accurate.

mhp
Monday, January 26, 2004

Many consider the sentence framgment to be perfectly acceptable English in the way that Joel used it.  E.g,:

"There are only a few situations in which sentence fragments may properly be used. They are sometimes effective in providing special emphasis--

'There was no one there. No one at all.' "

http://humanities.ucsd.edu/writing/workshop/fragments.htm

And yes, context matters.  Whether Joel's article is a "blog" or "marketing material," it's clearly written in a causual style that's fine here but would be inappopriate for a formal, stylized cover letter.

Robert Jacobson
Monday, January 26, 2004

Eye'd take incorect spelling over incorrect grammer anydae.

apw
Monday, January 26, 2004

People can say it's okay to use sentence fragments but that doesn't make it proper english.  The fact that someone in a humanities department says so says more about that department than correct english.  Isn't it a matter of punctuation?  i.e.

There was no one there, no one at all.

or maybe

There was no one there; No one at all.

It really bugs me when rather than attempt to find out the correct grammar, people argue against the value of correct grammar in the first place.  Fine there is no point and in 100 years we'll all be dead and no one will care if JOS used a sentence fragment.

Philo's point still holds.  Joel is criticizing bad grammar (thus insinuating that good grammar is valuable) then provides some bad grammar.

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, January 26, 2004

I'll just point out that this exception to the "no sentence fragments" rule is also endorsed by the venerable The Elements of Style:

"It is permissible to make an emphatic word or expression serve the purpose of a sentence and to punctuate it accordingly:
 
    Again and again he called out. No reply.
 
The writer must, however, be certain that the emphasis is warranted, and that he will not be suspected of a mere blunder in punctuation."  [1]

http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk.html#6
(First Edition; similar language in Third Edition.)

Sorry to beat a very dead horse.  <g>

Robert Jacobson
Monday, January 26, 2004

Joel's not a native English speaker, so cut some slacks for the poor lad, will ya?

Hebrew right Joel?

Cosmo Kramer
Monday, January 26, 2004

> Joel's not a native English speaker ... <

Good sentiment Kosmo, but nope, he grew up in Albuquerque, NM.

http://joel.spolsky.com

Robert Jacobson
Monday, January 26, 2004

Gack... after all of this discussion about grammar and spelling, at least I could get your name right.  Sorry Cosmo.  <g>

Robert Jacobson
Monday, January 26, 2004

The don't speak proper english in NM. They speak an odd dialect of Texan.

pdq
Monday, January 26, 2004

The most ironic thing is that most of you ninnies missed the obvious humour.

UK
Monday, January 26, 2004

The sentence fragment is perfectly correct. It would also be correct to have a dash as Philo suggested. Using the full stop adds emphasis.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

>> a sentence fragment

Come on... Next you'll start picking on split infinitives.

I mean, really. I bet even Bush's State of the Union had a sentence fragment somewhere.

Alex.ro
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

And we all know just how well Dubya speaks English!

Tapiwa
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I think most people just don't get spelling/grammar jokes. In my software product, I once wrote

"Please submit any error or *mispelling*..."

The word "mispelling" was in italics, in a vain intent to help people to get it; but I got so many error reports that I gave up and corrected it.

(To be fair, the fact that I'm not a native english speaker and that I make lots of spelling mistakes probably didn't help.)

Leonardo Herrera
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Sigh--I gotta say it, gotta beat the dead horse even more...but this time from a different direction.

English

English needs to be cap, not lower case (like Swiss cheese, French fries, and American pie).

There's always something, isn't there?

Jacque H.
Thursday, July 01, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home