Writing Good and Why that is Considered “Good but not Great.”

“It’s Thursday! Take out your grammar books.” As the teacher says this, a bystander would probably feel the loud cacophonous student mindset of “Noooo!”, ricocheting off the walls of the classroom (however it is only stated out-loud by the audacious few). Why is grammar today so despised? Geoffrey Numberg offers that perhaps it is because “Imperfect grammar is not much of a stumbling block, even on the road to high office.” In the vernacular, he is saying that one doesn’t need perfect grammar in order to become a success story. This may be the answer as to why there is a lack of motivation among students. However, I believe that the river of detestation for grammar runs much deeper than that. I thoroughly agree with Numberg when he reflects that, “The point of traditional grammar was to demonstrate a way of thinking about grammatical problems that encouraged thoughtful attention to language, not to canonize a set of arbitrary rules and structures.” Traditional grammar reflected ones thinking. It was a way to “Update your facebook status to the world.” Through your speech, you were profiled, judged, and talked about. In the academy awarded movie, My Fair Lady, a cockney flower girl is able to improve her lexicon and her syntax significantly. This enhancement transforms her into a demure Victorian lady complete with an aristocratic accent. By changing the way she spoke, she was able to increase her social rank and hoodwink people into believing she was aristocratic.  This is what traditional grammar was. It was more than a set of rules. It was a mindset—a way of life. People that spoke beautifully were expected to be beautiful high profile members of society.

It seems that today, the point of grammar has changed from showing veneration to a way of life (and at the same time proving one’s intelligence), to a lower subspecies of rules that are followed only when convenient. To me, this reflects the period of our time. Communication is expected to be fast and instantaneous. For someone to put thought into their communication they would need time and effort. This time and effort, in today’s society, would be considered a waste. As for me, I enjoy reading Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy. Can thought and effort be put into language without having immaculate grammar? I think so. However, no matter how broad minded one is, reading ,“Ta b or naw ta b dAttt IZZ da quesshuNN” must give us pause (perhaps not for the right reasons). Whether you like it or not, your syntax and your writing is a reflection of who you are.  Correct syntax is the icing to the cake of a cogent ideology.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.