[DWJ] Grammar

Aimee Smith aimees001 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 24 09:27:49 EDT 2008

I wouldn't say having correct grammar is unimportant, or that nobody  
had ever suffered misfortune as a result of bad grammar. Remember the  
two 'Dear John' letters, which have opposite meanings depending on the  
placing of punctuation? Could make a difference to John, for a start.
At most, you could argue that correct grammar *shouldn't* be valued by  
society as much as it is, while admitting that standardised grammar  
serves a useful purpose.
Editors and teachers have an obligation to teach correct grammar,  
spelling and punctuation, even though we live in a world where  
language changes.
In a job where clarity is important, say, writing IKEA assembly  
instructions, school report cards and textbooks, the need for  
adherence to generally accepted rules is a must.
The rules can change over time, but we can't do without some  
standardisation (I know I keep repeating that word). A standardised  
system will be more convenient than a collection of disparate  
discourses growing further apart, even if in the end it serves as a  
common-basis-of-reference tool to different discourses that need to  
talk to each other. A (ridiculous) example might be if a person in  
3009, raised solely on 'lolcat' speak*,  tries to talk to someone who  
has no idea what lolcats are**.
I don't think grammar devalues people with fluency in many languages,  
pseudo-languages, sub-languages, mini-languages and discourses.
Similarly, if you say some rules can go, but others are necessary, you  
are assigning a value judgement to various rules that different people  
will disagree about.
A general rule for the layperson is 'whatever gets you by' - but that  
has meant a loss of clarity in many situations.

Perhaps I have misunderstood someone's meaning or oversimplified? My  
excuse is braindededness due to marking of English essays. :)

Aimee (about to go edit report cards, honest)

* in yr list, dominatin yr emails...
** www.icanhazcheezburger.com - GO! SEE!

End of work break.

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