- Some reasons you hate grammar
- Where your grammar creative license comes from
- Who the enemy is in the grammar game
- Your license for creative, power writing - disruption!
Reading and Writing, Love and Loss
Your love for well written content, drives your reading habits. You read because you enjoy the language, learning, and entertainment.
Your favorite book meets those requirements doesn't it?
Orwell's bleak 1984 first mesmerized me in a dusty Idaho library. I was three years late, in 1987. I became conscious of The Man - Big Brother. My understanding exploded, and I realized that the world was in competition to gain control of my mind.
Later, I empathized with Holden Caulfield's crazy dream of saving everyone from plunging off the cliff of wasted lives, his role as The Catcher in the Rye. I was hooked.
Not just the ideas and story fascinated me, but I loved the sounds of the words, floating in strings off the pages.
âWhat really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.â
â J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Is this similar to your experience with words?
If so, then why did you always hate English classes?
A few teachers could make writing come alive, but others would always turn the enjoyable into a trip to the dentist.
It was the tedious rules that nagged you, right?
Reading and writing for some turned into mild torture. You were elated to sweat out a B or C in English class.
Key lessons lie in these literacy stories (learning to read and write), for those of you who kept writing beyond high school. Bloggers invoke the power of master writers they will never know, attempting to touch the souls of people they will never meet.
That is what you call a rhetorical challenge.
Battle Lines Were Drawn Long Ago in Writing
Because power lies in knowing the correct grammar,, conservative forces attempt to freeze the language with the rules, stuck in stone and unchanging.
Where is the power?
Those who can use the grammar correctly wield the power of words, and historically this has been the wealthy and elite.
Just look at the simple example of legal jargon. The elite have fought for centuries to keep the language unintelligible, so that only the wealthy can learn the grammar and rise into the judicial system.
I have always hated grammar, even as an instructor at the university. Some teachers etch obsolete grammar rules into white boards, as if the rules govern the universe.
Almost all of my school teachers were of this sort, taking the fun out of writing and reading.
Thankfully, a famous and obscure character in the late 1950's empowered the opposition in an odd way. And, he placed the power of language firmly in the grasp of the masses - not the elite.
Now if the world would just catch up.
Creative License Courtesy of Chomsky
Yes, almost all linguists are now grammar friendly because of this man.
I read Noam Chomsky the leader of the revolution in modern linguistics since 1957, when he refuted B.F. Skinner's predominant ideas (that language was simple training and memorization).
Noam Chomsky - The Revolutionaryï»¿
He explains what he means by a generative grammar, and why the idea is so fundamental and extraordinary:
By a generative grammar I mean simply a system of rules that in some explicit and well-defined way assigns structural descriptions to sentences. Obviously, every speaker of a language has mastered and internalized a generative grammar that expresses his knowledge of his language. This is not to say that he is aware of the rules of the grammar or even that he can become aware of them, or that his statements about his intuitive knowledge of the language are necessarily accurate.
This concept is what allows human beings to create an infinite number of unique sentences, each with its own quirks, but following basic underlying rules that babies understand.
The fact that all normal children acquire essentially comparable grammars of great complexity with remarkable rapidity suggests that human beings are somehow specially designed to do this, with data-handling or 'hypothesis-formulating' ability of unknown character and complexity.
â Avram Noam Chomsky
A review of B. F. Skinner, Verbal Behavior (1957). In Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America, 1959, 35, 57.
Chomsky says here that children pick up grammar naturally and complexly. Children are the grammar experts, not the elite, and they are somehow genetically pre-programmed to learn it.
Computers are only beginning to approach the ability to communicate on a human level. Secret: They are still a long ways off.
Although written more than 50 years ago, Chomsky's ideas have been expanded and tweaked, and largely taken as truth by linguists (the scientists who test these theories).
After so many years, Chomsky's scientific description of language is still completely foreign to most teachers. The implications of his ideas are even more hidden.
Teachers have always pounded rules, rules, rules into our brains. Historically, grammar teachers have always treated language this way, in a wimpy attempt to freeze language in place and keep it from evolving.
That way those on top, stay there. The tyrants of language will eventually lose.
Implications of Chomsky's viewpoint:
- Humans are genetically predisposed to acquire languages and grammars - without limit on number or kind.
- All human children without learning disabilities learn language and grammar naturally.
- Languages naturally evolve over time - migrating from dialects to completely new languages.
- The grammar that children learn is correct, though it may not meet rigidly, imposed school standards.
- Humans tend to impose rigid rules in an attempt preserve the elite language, allowing no further changes.
- The fact that we do not speak Middle or Old English is proof that languages evolve naturally.
The Trickle Down of Language Science is Lethargic
The nature of dissemination of scientific knowledge down to the elementary school teachers, where the wisdom is most needed, spreads slow and thick, for a lot of reasons outside the scope of this post.
And, once the knowledge reaches the trenches of education, hard-core enforcers of grammar and usage laws, still resist the science. They suggest that the evolution of language is a pollution. The rules are God given, and change strays from the path.
Zealots preach, right now, obsolete grammar and usage from the relatively new and super-effective pulpit of the Internet. That link will help you bloggers tow the line if you have any doubts about your skills.
Blogging Languages Evolve and Are Infinitely Unique
In most cases, this is liberating for bloggers, allowing them to work their craft without too much worry about rules and grammar. The key qualifier of good blogging is how well a post communicates to an audience.
Hell yes, we want fresh, crisp language, the opposite of what the grammar armies are lobbying for.
The language of blogging and bloggers evolves and changes regularly, at a rapid pace because of the quantity of writers, the subjects written about, and the technology that transmit words from writers to readers.
This push for creative flexibility is positive and aligns with the science, pushes it forward with bloggers becoming the craftsmen, creators, and scientists of vibrant language.
Put this into your practice!
- Understand and be friends with your audience, using language appropriate to your level of friendship - from casual to formal.
- Know the rules so that you can prove it if questioned, your grammar driver's license.
- Always learn new techniques and add them to your writing style if they fit.
- Learn from the writers you love to read, and emulate their writing. Usually they are breaking rules.
- Play with the rules in your language, trying to achieve greater readability, variety, and enjoyability.
- Play with language in general, remembering the children are the experts - and what do they do with language? Play.
- Express the fun of language in the words you string together, the vocabulary you use, and the messages you convey.
- Break the rules with purpose - because you can communicate more clearly. If it doesn't work, just try again.
- Be aware that you hold power in the direction writing on the web takes, and that is an important responsibility.
- Create a manifesto stating your attitude toward language, grammar, and usage.
- Experiment, take risks, listen to your readers, ignore your readers - in short communicate your important ideas in the most effective way possible.
- Mess around with the formatting of your posts.
- Embrace the power you have as a blogger to influence and direct the path of language change.
- Find your unique voice and all problems are solved.
- USE THESE KEYS: Content, Communication, and Kick Ass Skills
- Stick it to the man!
Your free soul holds more value and power than the old, slow opposition. Find yourself and be yourself.
OK, rip me apart on any point I make in comments below. Or provide more support for the arguments. Let's get into this. What do you think?
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