Thursday, September 20, 2007

Writing Marcom

I am writing a pamphlet today for my work's new "big" product. I am always amazed how different it is to write marketing material compared to any other form of writing (except poetry). Grammar rules go out the window with phrases like:

Access our powerful magic from home! (commanding isn't it).
Know your magical item is safe with us. (I feel safe, don't you).

No wonder we all talk in sentence fragments: it is the most common reading we do these days (billboards, etc.). Then I started wondering, is it really wrong, or does it just annoy me. I mean, most editors or writers agree that that grammar is 70 percent solid rules and 30 percent opinion. Still, it makes my red pen twitch.


pacatrue said...

Hm... to go all linguisticky on you, the true grammar of a language is essentially just a description of the rules which we use to create sentences (and doesn't create sentences we don't use). If people say it, it's grammatical. Of course, on top of this basic idea of grammar, we have lots of prescriptive and stylistic rules which are basically rules to sound a certain way in a social context. If you want to fit it, you will need to sound like us, say the people in power of the group, and that's it.

So, if these sorts of sentences are what people expect to read when they read ads, then they are grammatical. If they aren't good ads and confuse their targets, then they're "ungrammatical".

Or at least that's my take.

Bernita said...

I would be inclined to label those examples as elliptical rather than fragmentary.

Nicole Kelly said...

The issue is the lack of a clear subject. There is an implied subject as is in any command-form structure. Maybe that's what annoys me, I am being ordered around here ;-)

As for it being grammatical, I am using that argument the next time I get snarked at for vernacular structure making it into the documents :-)