Sunday, 8 June 2008

I could have just left it at that

Many many years ago I went through one of those 'sod it all' periods when things weren't going to plan at work. In a fit of pique I updated my CV with lots of fanciness and uploaded it to several recruitment websites.

I'm well aware that accepted practice in some quarters is to keep your CV up to date and 'out there' at all times. But this seems rather too thrusting and ambitious for me, so I only do it when I'm seriously pissed-off at something. If you could have access to my records at Monster or Fish4Jobs, etc, you'd be able to effectively map out my moods over the last few years.

Anyway, things improved at work and I forgot about it. However, as I'd left a legacy on these sites I would occasionally get unsolicited emails from recruitment consultants. Normally the emails tend to go straight to trash with only a cursory glance. Well, you never know. Really I should go back to all these sites and pull my details from them but that would involve a whole world of pain with logins and passwords. I have a lot of staring into space to do; sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day.

Last week I got such an email from a chap called Ike, telling me that Business Change Project Managers were needed in Manchester. Pick the bones out of that one, if you will. I should have just deleted it and moved on. But one sentence caught my eye, repeated below exactly as received:


I wrote back to Ike, asking kindly if he'd like to remove me from his database. That should have been enough. But I couldn't resist it. So I added:

"And please decide on how you're going to spell the word 'focused' before you send emails to people you're trying to impress. Either the UK or US spelling is fine, but putting them both in the same sentence is a bit much."

That should have been enough. But today I got a reply from Ike with the following:

"Also, I never recall being taught to start a sentence with the word "And", especially in a new paragraph. Its not the best word to use to start a sentence. Just a note for the future incase you try and make a point about grammar to someone else."

Well, I didn't even know where to start with this. I could have told him that conjunctions at the start of sentences are indeed to be used with caution and, certainly, beginners in English should avoid them. I could have added that many, if not most, experienced English writers will start sentences with conjunctions. In other words, I could have told him there is a guideline for beginners that cautions against starting a sentence with 'and' or 'but'. However, it is not a grammatical rule.

I could have said, "Ike, if you've ever studied science, you may remember being taught at first that an atom was the smallest indivisible particle of matter. Then when you learned more you discovered electrons, protons and neutrons. Enough knowledge for you to survive a few years, Ike, yes? Then along came lots more sub-atomic particles and wave theories and cats in boxes. English is rather like that, Ike. There are models of usage that are appropriate for each level of development. Then you discover that the model was a partial model and you learn something new - for example that is is entirely normal in English to begin a sentence with a conjunction."

I could have done all of that. Instead I wrote back telling him to check out Fowler's Modern English Usage.

And that 'in case' was in fact two words, not one.


City Girl said...

And are you still feeling cheeky? Or are you now experiencing Cheek Remorse? But what of poor Ike?

fatboyfat said...

I like Ike.

Le laquet said...

See, even I could go all writer-ish with that "I like Ike on a bike." What? Dr Seuss was a writer.


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