Defining Good Use

Defining Good Use

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Defining Good Use

In my opinion good use can depend on what you are writing, who you are writing for, and your purpose for writing. Good use can change from writing to your friend in North Carolina to writing a business memo for your boss to writing a paper for an English class. The good use of language can differ from one situation to another.

Many of the writers we discussed in class had many different ideas on what good use is. Emerson wanted us to believe that "truth and sincerity unsullied by ulterior motives" constituted good use. The only problem in that is even though you may be telling the truth, does it actually make it "good"? As in the exercise we did for class that showed how using different words we could make the same place sound attractive and then not so attractive. In both cases, we were telling the truth, but can we consider one description "better" than the other. The truth of one person may not be the same as the truth for another person depending on their perspective.

Robert Hall stated good use as "the most efficient way of saying whatever's being said." But is efficiency really good use? You may accomplish being efficient, but are you really saying exactly what you want to say. Maybe by being efficient you are leaving out important thoughts or feelings that could be used to relate what you are saying and cause your receiver to understand exactly what you are saying. Being efficient is not always being effective. Wouldn't you rather have the reader understand more fully what you are saying rather than being vague just to be efficient?

Orwell considers good use as "letting the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about." To me, that seems somewhat more to what good use is. Your meaning in a letter to a friend and your meaning in a business memo to your employer may be different, and thus you need to choose words that fit your meaning. The words you write on a piece of paper should not dictate what you want to say but express your meaning in the words you write.

I agree with the statement that "language is perceptive." Writing the same thing to two different people can cause different images for each person depending on the reader's perspective. A more descriptive paragraph may make a clearer picture for someone who is educated in that field and may cause a foggier picture for someone who knows nothing about the topic.

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The language used can, depending on the receiver's image, describe something varying depending on the receiver. Also, what the receiver of the message already knows about the subject dictates what understanding of the message the receiver obtains.

Many writers have their beliefs on good use and each argument is valid, but good use can largely depend on the situation you are writing for. Good use in writing a poem is largely different for the good use in writing a memo to your boss. Poems are often filled short phrases or fragments that must be read and then be decoded by the reader, where more than one interpretation may be plausible. When writing a business memo, you want to be concise and to the point. Your boss should not have to read any extra thoughts or ideas into the memo. The memo should come right out and say exactly what you want to be understood by your boss. Being allusive about ordering inventories valuing $500,000 would not be conducive to a business.

The same applies when writing a letter to a friend and writing an essay for an English class. When you are writing to a friend, you are writing for enjoyment and communication. You are only trying to express you thoughts and feelings and what interesting new gossip you have heard since the last time you corresponded. You are not concerned about correct punctuation, correct spelling, and correct grammar. When writing for an English class, you are solely writing to please the teacher and to receive a good grade. You may not write what you want, but what you believe that the teacher wants to see in your paper. In this case good use depends on what you are trying to achieve by writing. Are you writing to receive an above average grade or are you just writing to check up on the latest happenings and let someone know you care about what goes on in that person's life.

Many times the audience you are writing for can determine what language constitutes good usage. If you are writing for a group of experts in the field of accounting, you would be expected to use terminology familiar to accountants to get your meaning across. These experts would understand what you are writing and have in mind exactly what you are writing about due to the style of your writing. This can be considered good use. In the same token, you would not use advanced terms of accounting when writing for a beginning level accounting class. You would use language that would be understood by someone who is not yet educated in that field. This also would be considered good use. The group people you are writing for has an impact on what good use is. Short, simple words would be appropriate for grade school children but not for a group of college professors.

Good use varies with almost every situation you are faced with in life. Depending on what you are writing, who you are writing for, and your purpose for writing determines what good use is. What is considered good use for an English paper would not be considered good use for a business document stating the companies net earnings, earning per share, and stockholder's equity. Good use is could be considered situational. For a certain situation, good use can be accomplished, but in a differing situation, good use would not be accomplished.
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