Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Pedants of the World...

Joseph Addison on the pedant:
"one that does not know how to
think out of his Profession and
way of Life."
I had a column in yesterday's Canberra Times, 'At times, pedants are just revolting'.

I'm exploring pedantry in the public sphere: why it's problematic, and how to overcome it.  A sample:
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for pedantry. Partly because it is overcome with practice, not with rules. And partly because there are interests at stake: some folks need their pedantry to distract and console them. But the most obvious remedy is a combination of humility and courage. 
Humility is necessary to remember that one’s hard-won expertise is not always relevant. It also helps to recognise that others, too, have their technical knowledge: only they have learned how and when to deploy it diplomatically. Our rambling is only possible because of their restraint. 
Courage is required to confront one’s own imperfection: to heed opposing arguments, and consider the possibility of their truth. We have to be brave enough to confront our own ignorance or insufficient reason; to see that improvement is nothing to be ashamed of. 
Try it, dear pedants, before you write to say I have ended that last sentence on a preposition.

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