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The rules of grammar
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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:06 pm    Post subject: The rules of grammar  Reply with quote

Since I have been away from this forum, there has been much discussion all over the place on the rules of grammar, and the concept of correctness. I've tried to contribute toi this debate myself - here.

The discussion seems to be between two opposing poles - a "prescriptive" pole that insists on rules, and a "descriptive" pole that insists that whatever is widely used is correct. There are many shades of grey in between.

Stephen Pinker has now enetered the fray it seems. I have not yet read his book, but there's a fine review of it in the New Yorker.

The last paragraph in particular is worth quoting:

Quote:
“Correct” usage is our translation tool. The written language isn’t supposed to eclipse the variety of American English, but it’s not meant to comprise the full range, either. It’s a lingua franca, based on clear and common rules: anybody who makes it to high school can learn to use the written language correctly and be broadly understood. When you write a letter to the White House, you don’t need to worry about making context calibrations—not grammatical ones, anyway—because the rules are there. Pinker’s insistence that written language loosen to reflect natural American idiom is parochial: there’s too wide a range of idiom to be captured in one style. Better that everybody speak his or her own forms, and then use “good” English, too. If ambitious writers work at the boundaries of the written language (as they should), then they ought do it from a path of mastery, not ignorance; broken rules carry no power if writers and readers don’t notice the transgressions. Proper usage shows us where the earth is, so that, when the time comes, we know what it means to fly.



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Last edited by TheRejectAmidHair on Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gino



Joined: 20 Dec 2008
Posts: 127


Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't want to be pedantic but I think some proof reading before posting would not come amiss



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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Himadri's just contributing to the evolution of language, Gino - or his iPad is...


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 724



PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I must be a bit odd, because I am much more exercised by poor use of spoken language, than by the written word. No doubt this is largely attributable to the fact that I have a degree of autonomy over what I choose to read, and exercise that choice to exclude books and newspapers that are likely not to pay due attention to proper grammar. I have no such control over the speech I have to listen to. There is of course, now, a considerable intermediate area, taken up by texting, social media etc, which to me, although they are 'written', seem to me to have more the characteristics of spoken language.

Some of the things that drive me mad are direct transfers from social media, others are very much 'youth speak', but both leave me irritated and questioning the intelligence of the speakers, even when, I know full well, they are bright. My teeth are set on edge whenever I hear 'I'm loving...', which I am pretty sure is a Twitter convention. Reported speech that consists entirely of "So I go ..., then she goes...and I go...", just makes me cringe.

Sorry for the rant! I find myself increasingly taking refuge in a good book, as conversation becomes more and more degraded into an endless series of cliches. But it is probably just me! In many ways, I rather hope it is!


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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The things you write about also exercise me, Chris. I'm sure 'I'm loving' predates Twitter. Isn't the McDonalds slogan 'I'm lovin' it'? Yeuch. I'm afraid in spite of my best efforts I sometimes open a conversation with 'So,' which is a youthy thing that seems to be infectious, but I can usually manage not to insert superfluous 'likes'. More than anything else what sets my teeth on edge is the ubiquitous 'I'm good' as an alternative to 'I'm well.' Will these things become common in the written word? If you're writing dialogue, perhaps, but they're not the kind of thing likely to crop up in novels very often. Not the novels I read, anyway.


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TheRejectAmidHair



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not pedantic at all, Gino. Typos now corrected.



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TheRejectAmidHair



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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A report in today's Times starts as follows:

Quote:
Acapulco airport was besieged by thousands of protesters yesterday who are furious about the horrific killings of 43 students whom (sic) they believe were abducted on the orders of a local mayor.


Leaving aside, if one can, the horrific nature of the story itself, I do not think this writing is acceptable. Not from the Latin America Correspondent of the Times.

Even if you choose what you want to read, sloppy English is everywhere, and hardly anyone seems to mind.



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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you can blame the journalist as it might be a case of bad sub-editing.  There has been a lot in "Private Eye" about how newspapers are sacking their sub-editors and "out-sourcing" production (a term I hate) to people often far away from the editorial staff and with dubious experience.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Himadri, I would appreciate it if you would indicate what you think is wrong with the Times bit.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you're probably right, Sandra. But it's unacceptable. I don't care if language is changing, this is unacceptable.




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Last edited by TheRejectAmidHair on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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