Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Unedited Comments from my Secret Free Thinkers Facebook Debate Group #2: The Grammarchy

As usual, the problem is not what's claimed (classism, elitism, bullyism as claimed bases for a would-be grammarchy). It is the absolutism and oversimplification used to make and support the claim.

Where a given rule aids clarity? GRAMMAR ELITE GOOD. They win not because "It's a rule"; they win not because the power of rules can "shut down" and "bully" people into silence! And what sheep, if so; what cowards to be shut down, shamed by ignorance of some silly rule!

Where the rule truly is silly, is useless, the grammarchists are easily dethroned and ridiculed for insisting on it. Where the rule powerfully aids clarity, though, the grammarchists rule. By divine right: the will of the people to a language capable of wielding meaning with power.

It's case by case, as almost always it is. Absolutists can eat a dick!

But even there, my generalization is overbroad. In a given instance, many of them will choose not to.


dogimo said...

Substantially, this is in response to Bronwen Clune's article in the Guardian:

I respect Clune's attempts to position this along lines of classism and oppression, and I have no doubt that he or she is hot, but can living under a proud tradition of having endured centuries of oppression by a long-since constitutional monarchy truly blind the British so thoroughly as to the true sources of power in language?

dogimo said...

Or is it "powour?" Honestly, people.

Mel said...

I can be on team stickler when it comes to grammar and language, I'll admit. However, I do love the eloquence of this...

"For all the vitriol brought out by matters of correct usage, they are the smallest part of good writing. They pale in importance behind coherence, classic style and overcoming the curse of knowledge, to say nothing of standards of intellectual conscientiousness. If you really want to improve the quality of your writing, or if you want to thunder about sins in the writing of others, the principles you should worry about the most are not the ones that govern fused participles and possessive antecedents but the ones that govern critical thinking and factual diligence.

We can share our advice on how to write well without treating people in need of it with contempt. We can try to remedy shortcomings in writing without bemoaning the degeneration of the language. And we can remind ourselves of the reasons to strive for good style: to enhance the spread of ideas, to exemplify attention to detail and to add to the beauty of the world.

Why grammar pedants miss the point

dogimo said...

I admire your taste in my language, Mel.