Grammar? Wazzat?

09.10.2005Osebno

There is a disease spreading in our country, and it`s called illiteracy. And I am not talking about the common people (please, I am not casting stone when my house is made of glass). I am talking about Rozina, the self-proclaimed nest of the silent revolution (excuse me, but that`s just plain stupid. If the revolution is silent, what`s the fucking point??).

Anyway, so far, only the silent part is right. They are silent. I understand these are people with busy lives (or so I imagine) and they don`t have the time to blog several posts per day (like..erm…well…me), but come fucking on! Are they really thinking that they are going to conquer the world with posting old articles that have already been published? Sheesh.

This blog is sweet. She is a TV journalist, known for her show “Preverjeno” which deals with investigative journalism. The problem is, her grammar knowledge ends with “ki, ko, ker, da, če, vejica skače“.

Now, I really do not know where the problem is. If you don`t know your grammar, then just stick to formations you do know and can handle. Nobody is going to bitch about you using shorter or single-verb sentences. However, people will notice if your sentences are long and comma-less. Or comma-rich. You see, some people think that sticking too many commas will make them look smarter. Well,guess,what,wise,guy,it,ain`t,happening. This is just as bad as saying “Danes ko je dan suh nikjer nikogar bom odšel tja kjer se dogajajo čudne stvari”. I don`t know about you but it makes my eyes hurt.

Grammar is the rule-book of language. This isn`t just some fancy-pancy high theory people are better off to ignore and go on with their lives. This is the way the language functions. And journalists, the carriers, the makers of the language norms, should be twice as careful as the others. Not being aware of your influence and bash away like you are the last hick on the pig-farm is really not useful.

Unless of course, that`s the image you are going for.

 

4 komentarjev na “Grammar? Wazzat?

  1. Marko

    I told you this already, but there’s no harm in doing it again.

    I find it absolutely incredible that someone, who rapes grammar as much as you do, can bitch about others so much. And I’m not talking only about your English.

    It’s also hard to imagine why — apart from personal envy — Rozina bothers you so much. They are just people trying a new thing and it takes time to get a feel for it. I know I’m still learning, but I’m happy for you that you don’t feel the need to do so.

    Journalist is not your slovene teacher and it is not her responsibility to correct teaching mistakes of others. Especially not on her personal website.

    And grammar is not a rule-book. Language is a living thing, not something codified for eternity and if grammar is anything, then it’s a reflection of language use at some point in time and a guidance at best.

     
  2. Ill-advised

    Admittedly, I find this type of grammar nazism deplorable. I don’t think there’s much to be gained from it. Surely you cannot seriously claim that your ability to understand a text is in general seriously impaired because of a couple of misplaced commas here and there. Although I personally am somewhat of a pedant myself when it comes to spelling, I would never for a moment imagine that spelling and grammar are of any real importance, or that, if I am ever so rash as to exhort people to correct their grammatical mistakes, that I am doing this for any other reason but to indulge my inner grammar nazi.

    As for grammar being the rule-book of language — I think it’s best to think of language as primarily a colloquial and spoken phenomenon. That is its natural scope. Any codified and standardised language, and in particular standardised written language, is just a poor approximation of the real thing. Its rules are mere conventions, carrying no intrinsic worth except insofar as they make communication easier, which is a very dubious claim for most of them. Grammar in the proper sense of the word is the study of the structure and patterns of a
    language. The colloquial language of every individual human being has grammar, and indeed grammar just as sophisticated and wealthy as that of the standard written language. The two may differ and disagree in various details, but it would be vain to claim that the grammar of the standardised language is somehow superior, more important, or more valuable than the unwritten and uncodified grammar of a person’s spoken idiolect. Indeed the grammar of a standardised written language is but the simplification of the wonderful, amazingly rich mess that is the living spoken language as used daily by a community of its thousands or millions of users. There are no persuasive reasons to fetishize its grammar — it is just one particular selection of rules that have been included in the standard because they tend to coincide reasonably well with at least a part of the actual living language, the language as it is actually used
    by its speakers. But many choices could equally well be made, resulting in a standardised written language none the worse than our current one. And indeed, it is only by the wise disregard of many rules of the standard language that
    the people can help their standard language to survive as a living artefact and to stay in touch with the linguistic reality of its users.

    Another reason why it’s good, in my opinion, to be as far as possible indifferent to matters of grammar and spelling, is that excessive emphasis on these matters is often used by people wishing to position themselves as a privileged elite of language users; they can then try to bludgeon others into silence by complaining about their grammar errors, thereby largely excluding the voices of underprivileged minorities from the public discourse. We should not forget that it is the living daily language that is a linguistic reality: it is for all practical purposes a natural phenomenon; the codified written
    language, by contrast, is essentially a social construct, created by educated and literary elites who often enjoyed introducing superfluous complexity which afforded them scope for ostentatious displays of learning and allowed them to set themselves apart from the uneducated masses of the people. Needless prescriptions and prohibitions of this kind abound in many languages, and often manage to maintain themselves for centuries despite being clearly at odds with
    the reality of the language as spoken by almost all of its users.

    Anyhow, I for one think that maintaining language as a democratic, accessible, and genuinely humane community is far more important than maintaining all the i’s dotted, all the t’s crossed, and all the commas in their ordained places. Language, surely one of the most wonderful and fascinating artefacts ever to arise out of the human mind, is far too valuable and too important to be left to pedants and prescriptivists.

    P.S. Despite all that, I don’t think that cookie’s grammar is quite so atrociously bad as one of the above comments suggests.

    And while I also agree that the Rozina folks might be given a break as they are after all still just getting familiar with something that is new to them, I must admit that I have occasionally felt that there is a certain pomposity
    behind their activities, a pomposity not justified by what they have so far actually written in their blogs. I personally consider such statements as “Pripravljajo se spremembe, še nikoli tako neopazno. To bo tiha revolucija.”
    and “Medmrežno zbirališče oblikovalcev javnega mnenja.” to indicate that the authors have a higher estimation of themselves and their activities than I think a decent person should have of oneself and one’s activities. Perhaps it
    is not yet quite arrogance, but it’s almost there.

     

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