Grammar is a Language Art

grammar confession Mamacita says: I will have to say that if I were on that jury, I, too, would consider that statement to be one of admission of guilt. Parse that statement and the double negative would, as in math, create a positive.  Double negatives are the same as a positive.

“I didn’t do nothing” translates to “I did something.” As cranky old Mrs. Roberts back in 7th grade was fond of saying, “If I did not do nothing, it follows that I then did something.” It makes sense to me. It made sense to me back then, too. My love of language-done-properly began at an early age.

I am daily and forever amazed that people choose not to use their own language correctly.  It’s almost a badge of pride for some, to corrupt and twist the language, to fit in with some group of grammarless twits and I hated to hear it even as a small child.  Yes, I am a grammar snob.  I think everyone should be a grammar snob.

Dialects and accents do not bother me; I like them.  What I do not like is someone who never bothered to learn to use his/her own language properly.  People with only one way of speaking amaze me.  Would they go to Buckingham Palace and say “Yo, Queen, throw me sum o’them there sugar cubes, babe?”  Would they go to the White House and say, “I done come here for a reason!”  or “I’ve went here with my cuzzins?”

I tell my students that one (of many) characteristic of an educated person is having more than one way of speaking, depending on who/where/circumstance.  Speaking without regard to grammar with one’s friends and family is one thing; speaking without regard to grammar in public, where we are all judged by our communication skills, is quite another.

Your English teachers are not trying to remove all traces of your environment, likes, dislikes, dialects, etc. from you.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with people whose grammar skills are lacking.  We are merely trying to show you that we ARE judged by our ability to communicate with all kinds of people, and that when we use poor grammar, we are metaphorically slamming doors of opportunity and respect in our own faces and not even realizing it.

Let’s encourage ourselves and our children to use language creatively yet properly.  Language is an art, remember, just like music or sculpture or painting or dance.  Remember 8th grade?  Language Arts?  That.

Let your language flow like music from your lips.  Learn to use your language properly, for once you grammar, hygieneknow the rules, you can break them creatively.  It’s easy to tell the difference between a person whose grammar is “interesting” in order to create an effect from a person whose grammar is “interesting” because he/she simply doesn’t know any better.

Don’t be that guy.  Be the guy who knows how to manipulate the rules because you KNOW the rules in the first place.

You’re welcome.


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