Sonal Vs Guardians of the English Language

So having pissed off unionists, guild members and possibly some Americans, I thought, what the hey, why not, with one ranty post piss off … well … everyone whom I respect and take a pot shot at grammar … what can I say? I’m in a good mood (I get to go to a Pirate Party tomorrow – toddlers are cool!).

Yes, I understand why it’s needed – past tense, present tense, verb, noun placement and correct usage of an adjective are all very helpful in allowing us to understand one another … and as you may observe while you read this blog, I pretty much mangle sentence structure at any given opportunity albeit unconsciously. Admittedly, I follow the rules enough to be marginally more comprehensible than others *cough*notmentioninganyworldleadershearatall*cough* …

Ok fine, I don’t really have an issue with general grammar per se … it’s people who yell at billboards with misplaced apostrophes, write books calling for zero tolerance towards grammar errors and commentators who bemoan the dumbing down of the English language and the rise of text speech (oh and I know that a few of you are members of the Facebook group “I judge you when you use poor grammar”, well thank you very much, let me add you to the list!).

As far as the usage of text speak used in exams, I can see what the issue may be and clearly you need proper words and grammar for English exams – you’re being tested on it, fair enough. As for the rest … well, I’m ambivalent. Does it really matter? Is the English speaking empire going to crumble because someone decided to represent the word ‘good’ visually as ‘gud’? Well ok then, how about this: ‘Gloucester’ and ‘Gloster’? The first is the modern day spelling of an English county, the latter is how it’s spelt in the Shakespeare’s Richard III when it was published the very first time around. Both mean the same thing, the intention is the same, 2 b or nt 2 b works just as well for me.

Apostrophes? Common mistake, happens all the time. Yes some of us know how to use them, some don’t, but in the context of the sentence if you understand what they are trying to say is it really so important to allow your blood pressure to boil over something so insignificant? It’s only an apostrophe. Lives are not at risk because of a misplaced apostrophe … well except for yours if you happen to be driving past the aforementioned billboard at the time … if you happen to know of any apostrophe related deaths, do let me know.

As for this dumbing down nonsense … oh please! Could you uptight bastards stop killing the English language? Language isn’t something that should be preserved in a cryogenic chamber, it should remain fluid, evolving, passing without prejudice between the lips of street preachers, second language speakers, teachers, academics, politicians, children and small playwrights whose swearing habits would make the most filthy mouthed sailor blush. I don’t want to sound like I’ve stepped out of a Austen novel, I don’t want to sound like I’ve stepped out of a Shakespeare play (and don’t start me on ‘Hey Nonny Nonny’). I want to be understood. We all want to be understood. We want to express the poetry of our own speech, so for the love of English, let us do it our way. Let us celebrate English our own way. We still write, we are still poets, we still revere the Word … none of that has changed over all of these years.

Let the language go. Set it free and see what it brings us.

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7 Responses to “Sonal Vs Guardians of the English Language”

  1. Hmm. I hear you for the most part, Sonal-didi. But I do NOT accept text/IM language in written work from my students. They need to learn how to code switch – it’s like not swearing in a job interview. YouknowwhatI’msayin? I also do not accept run on sentences, “alot,” or confusions of common homophones.

    However, in my own writing, I love the sentence fragment.

  2. For written language as communication I think it should evolve at a pace that allows for the clearest possible communication for those that use it. If I look at the bebo pages of my old youth group kids it takes me ages to read anything they say (although mostly it’s possible), but they can all write and understand their language as fast as anything. I accept that written language evolves, but I just don’t want it to happen so fast that I can’t keep up. Just like I don’t want to use the phrase ‘back in my day…’ as much as I already do.
    I can still be a grammar geek without being a grammar Nazi right?

  3. Oh and have fun at the Pirate Party. I’m jealous.

  4. I have only one pet peeve – ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’, because it doesn’t make sense. Otherwise I stick to the idea that they only decided there should be one spelling of something when they decided to make a dictionary. And who decided which spelling should be the final version? The guy who wrote the dictionary. So I’m all for evolution of the language and such a rather. Why should it stop as soon as someone officiates it?

    As for grammar, I fell into that generation who didn’t learn it at school… and I can still string together a sentence, so who cares?

  5. I have no idea of any of the labels for grammar rules beyond knowing what an adjective, a verb and a noun are – so I definitely have no anal issues with syntax (I asked Michelle what syntax means last week, so can now add that to grammar terms I sort of understand). And I’m totally cool with evolving the language to include new words, terms, phrases, spellings… and obviously in contexts like blogging anything goes…

    Context is the key. I think it is fundamentally crap and lazy when billboards have unintentional language errors. Intentional playfulness with the language – yeah! Cool! (well, actually often I think it’s hideous and makes me cringe due to the cheesiness/crapness/dumbness of a lot of it) But unintentional errors of grammar and/or spelling? Not acceptable. Get a better proof-editor. Get better English skills. I mean, obviously in a magazine or anything with a substantial amount of writing, you can expect a couple of errors to slip through. But in an ad, especially one a billboard? Get it right! It’s their freaking job to communicate accurately. People shouldn’t be working as a copy-writer if they don’t have excellent command of the language.

  6. PS in your cough you used the wrong spelling of ‘here’.
    PPS yes, I’m pointing that out for comic effect.
    PPPS I actually suspect you did it on purpose.

  7. Tamasha – I expect nothing less from a teacher 🙂

    Kat – the pirate party was fun …

    Lou – yes.

    Lotte – hello! I didn’t want you to feel left out …

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