I recently read a book titled “The Grammarians”. I’m about to discuss why this book has me thinking, so there are bound to be spoilers. Spoilers is probably not the optimum word as the book really has no plot, so I wouldn’t be spoiling much….
In a nutshell, the book is about two sisters who share a love for words and grammar. One sister ends up writing a grammar column for a major newspaper, while the other one is a teacher…until she isn’t. At one point, the teacher begins research basically stating that grammar is elitist.
You get where I’m going with this?
Is there a case to be made that proper grammar is elitest?
I realize grammar is “the rules” but in a world where rules seem to be “for someone else”, that the rules which we hold written etiquette are outdated?
For the moment let’s dispense with punctuation rules. We all know that we need a certain amount of punctuation to make sure intent is clear. Let’s eat Grandma is way different than Let’s eat, Grandma. So basic, clarifying punctuation is necessary.
Does it matter if your participles dangle?
You know I play by my own grammar rules. I’m sure there are people who will not read my blog because of that. I don’t really care: not in a snobbish way, but in a “I write for me” way. As one of my IRL friends states, “When I read your blog, I picture you. You write exactly as you sound when we’re having a conversation.” Honestly- that is my goal. I see blogging as a conversation tool- I feel the point is to communicate with one another. When I’m speaking to my someone, I want the ideas to matter, the meat of what I’m saying. I want to have fun with words, deliver them in a fresh and playful way. To be a slave to the rules of grammar would take away the fun…
But back to the main point.
If you read/listen to someone with poor grammar, do you make a snap judgement about what sort of person they are? Their education? Their socioeconomic status? Their intelligence?
Do you think I’m uneducated because I am not a grammarian? Poor? Slovenly?
Do you judge the grammar of all equally, or are you more harsh with some groups?
Are you a grammar snob?
When my daughter was in public school she was obviously taught to write. And in those beginning days, kids were told to just put something on the page. Spelling didn’t matter. Punctuation didn’t matter. Grammar wasn’t even a thought. The idea was to get them excited about writing their ideas down on the page. As she went through school, grammar was still secondary. Of course, she copiously studied the rules of grammar for standardized tests: but that was all about the score.
The mark of whether or not you get into college.
Recently, there was a thought that there should be a socio economic indicator to the standardized testing process, because those of a lower economic class generally do not do as well on these tests. Was this a thinly veiled way of saying that grammar is a tool of the upper middle classes?
Some schools have dispensed with standardized test requirements. The mark of intelligence does not lie in a number. I firmly believe this. But as the ELA part of the test is more difficult, largely due to the grammar component, are these colleges inadvertently saying that grammar doesn’t matter?
Does equality mean we all need to speak in the same vernacular?
Are the rules of grammar, as they stand now, archaic?