My Semi-Pornographic Love Affair With Grammar

sentence diagram, judgment, Jane GoodwinMamacita says:  I love a good turn of phrase. I can be swept off my feet by it. I can be swayed and influenced and converted and my vote can be purchased and my virginity can be compromised. . . .um, pretend you didn’t read that part. . . .

Language is power, and a pen is more powerful than any Ollivander wand. I love wit and whimsy and sarcasm. I love a quotation that knocks my socks off. I love WORDS. I love their meanings and their origins.  I love how a word and a person both have histories. I love all the things that can be done with words. I love making them into adjectives and adverbs and nouns. I love the “kick” of a strategically placed interjection. I love how the grammar, snob, English grammarchoice of a tiny preposition can change the focus of an entire book. I love how a comma can turn a legal contract into the opposite of what a careless reader believes it to be. I love dictionaries. I love to play with a thesaurus. I love the preciseness of grammar, and I love how that very preciseness gives us the ability to be witty, and whimsical, and how it not only lets our imagination soar, but also allows us to share what we discover as we soar.  Figurative language depends on grammar for accuracy;  metaphor, simile, hyperbole, alliteration, personification, etc., are awesome only if they’re done well.

Did I mention how much I love a clever turn of phrase?  Literally and figuratively; I love words.  You do understand the difference between literally and figuratively, don’t you?  Of course you do.  I’m going to assume that you do.  Please don’t prove me wrong; it would be quite disillusioning.  I’m counting on your refined inferential skills here.

Even more, I love how someone who KNOWS HOW can take that preciseness and twist it, toss it, and tie it into a knot.  Good writers are a lot like good athletes; once they know the rules well, those rules can be twisted and turned into even more.

grammar, English, language, writing, Jane GoodwinMore what?  More of everything.  There’s nothing in the rule book about Michael Jordan flying through the air like a veritable Peter Pan, but it wasn’t AGAINST the rules, either.  Ditto a good writer.

Occasionally, too, a rule needs to be broken in order to make a point.  This is true in business, as well, and also in our schools.  A leader who doesn’t know when to break a rule is useless, and a writer who doesn’t know when (or how) to break a rule will not be as good a communicator as a writer who understands the language more thoroughly.

I love reading articles about people who are upset because their lack of grammar skills resulted in a lost court case, contract dispute, etc.  Item:  I am not on the side of the person who has chosen to become an adult without any honed grammar skills.  I LOVE it when grammar-ignorant people lose.

One can almost always tell whether a piece of writing is written by someone who knows his/her grammar rules well and has chosen to twist them, or if a piece of writing is written by someone who is just plain ignorant.

Um, I teach writing.  I love my job.

What I mean to say is, I LOVE MY JOB.Jane Goodwin, Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly, grammar

I hope you can tell.

P.S.  Speaking of my vote. . . . I will generally vote for the candidate with the best grammar, my assumption being that the candidate with the best grammar probably studied everything else in more detail and depth, too.  People with good grammar have paid attention.  That’s been my experience, anyway.

P.P. S.  If there are only two candidates, I’ll vote for the one with the better grammar.  It’s that three degrees of comparison rule. . . .

P.P.P.S.  “Grammar” is spelled with an “-AR,” not an “-ER.”  The word is “grammar,” not “grammer.”  Unless we are speaking about your grandmother, in which case you should call her whatever she wants you to call her, and spell it however she dictates.

Or unless you are referring to Kelsey Grammer, but we are not discussing adultery in this post.


Comments

My Semi-Pornographic Love Affair With Grammar — 2 Comments

  1. 1. Are students still taught to diagram sentences? That’s actually one of my fondest memories from middle-school English (that, and reciting “Jabberwocky” as the poem I had picked to memorize). Maybe it’s because I’m a slightly-OCD math person …

    2. Importance of punctuation: Woman without her man is lost. ;-)

    3. Sometimes you just have to split an infinitive: To boldly go where no man has gone before.

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