Monday, March 03, 2008

National Grammar Day


Yesterday in England was Mamma's day, and tomorrow in the US is Grammar's Day.

The SCOGG manifesto: We owe much to our mother tongue. It is through speech and writing that we understand each other and can attend to our needs and differences. If we don't respect and honor the rules of English, we lose our ability to communicate clearly and well. In short, we invite mayhem, misery, madness, and inevitably even more bad things that start with letters other than M.

Within this blog and elsewhere, I undertake an eternal fruitless quest for perfect clarity and zero spelling mistakes. So you might guess that I agree with those statements. But that guess would be wrong. It would be reading a conclusion from the style of this blog and not from its content. I have spelled it out before.

Specifically regarding the guardians of grammar day, the Language Log, with impeccable grammar, points out three ridiculous assumptions in their manifesto that I summarise below:

  1. non-standard variants are unclear and therefore impede communication
  2. respecting and honoring "the rules of English" is what permits people to convey meaning to others
  3. for English, the "standards" seem to be defined by a self-proclaimed group of commercial publishers, editors, etc who seem to know nothing about the nature of language or its history.

I mention them here because I don't actually think that any of those assumptions are very obvious. But they are there, and he was right to highlight them. And English is not my mother tongue anyway.

1 comment:

R N B said...

Self-comment. I'm not actually happy with this note. The idea was fine, to alliterate "Mamma" and "Gramma", to point out the nonsense of grammatical pedants, to link Mother's Day to Mother's Tongue, but it all doesn't quite hang together as it should.