Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Never mind the full stops

Something is shared by Melvyn Bragg, Bill Bryson, Robert Burchfield, Anthony Burgess, Lewis Carroll, David Crystal, George Orwell, Stephen Pinker, John Simpson and Lynne Truss. They all seem to be passionate about clear communication. But I don't entirely agree with them.

I agree that incorrect spelling is ugly. Misplaced apostrophes are hideous. So I do preach the gospel of clear English. I hope that when I want a statement to say something then it does so without equivocation. Unfortunately I sometimes aspire to hide sub-texts, and a punny word will often jump in place of an obvious one, but the principle holds true.

Yet as I have admitted before, I know very little formal grammar. I was never lucky enough to learn Latin at school. I did not even get the chance to study English Literature beyond the age of about fourteen. I found Dickens and Hardy to be impenetrable. Yet I genuinely like the sound of Shakespeare and Chaucer. Perhaps it is because they played so loosely with the rules of grammar, perhaps it is the patter of iambic pentameter, perhaps it is the tortured rhyming, perhaps I just like the stories!

So I will never get there, but I will aim in that direction. Sorry the grammar may slip, forgive me my trespasses, is it really obvious that English is not my mother tongue?

1 comment:

Ann said...

Not obvious at all, and it's simply your usual perfection where language is concerned that encourages increased scrutiny.