These Famous Authors Made It Okay To Commit Grammar No-No's
Posted: February 21st, 2014, 2:27 pm
How often are we told that the rules of language MUST be followed? How many times have my editors changed my manuscript to conform with British rules of grammar? Now, I'm going to cite the following:
You have to learn the rules before you can break them. At least that's what our English teachers told us when we cited Dickens as a defense for our use of run-on sentences.
It's true that not all grammar violations are created equally. Some indicate a blatant disregard for, or ignorance about, what's commonly accepted. These are the result of laziness, cluelessness, or lack-of-a-copy-editor-ness. And they're not okay.
But other rule-bending choices demonstrate a command of language, and an ability to wield it (e.g. this sentence, which began with a sensical and aesthetically-pleasing conjunction). These tweaks can enhance the theme or mood of a story, rather than distracting readers or inducing face-palms.
Here are 7 authors who beautifully broke the language and grammar rules your high school English teachers taught you:
Read who they are and why what they did was good @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/2 ... 768485.htm
Re: These Famous Authors Made It Okay To Commit Grammar No-No's
Posted: February 22nd, 2014, 4:49 pm
I don't consider grammar a set of rules. That, number one and only, is a failing of grammar teachers' insistence on rules compliance, as if grammar is a nonnegotiable behavioral obligation for teacher and students alike. Grammar and language's principles are guidelines from a set and somewhat fixed consensus that evolved over a long time and continue to evolve for living languages. An appreciable consensus considers Latin a dead language because it is fixed and not amenable anymore to evolution.
I'd take any grammar advice or argumentation that uses the term rules as flawed at its core. Grammar principles espouse one rule only: Provide for reader appeal, reception, and comprehension. Grammar principles follow that rule. However, the rule isn't inviolate. The rhetoric principle of decorum is more meaningful. Suit words and subject matter to each other and to the opportune occasion and the audience. Language inaccessible by general readers may be exactly appealing, receivable, and comprehensible by its intended niche audience at a gathering of its users, for example.
Principles are guidance. Rules are made to be broken. Laws, on the other hand, are inviolate. Breaking a law has consequences that are without exception identical in every same case. Violate the laws of physics, in every case the outcome is the same for each identical violation and no exceptions. Accord principles their due but follow them unquestionably at peril. Ample precedents show that unquestioning obedience is harmful for an individual's well-being and for humankind at large.
Also, look to the quoted excerpt for faulty grammar, which signals other faults, like faulty argumentation. Starting a sentence with a pronoun and no antecedent subject is problematic. More anon. Maybe the cited portion is from later in the article than its first lines. However, the context of the first cited sentence is a claim, or thesis in general composition vernacular. The first sentence of the article is outside the quote field, though. Being a claim, the sentence is an introductory declaration statement, an opening expression. If the sentence is from a later portion, that's either faulty argumentation or a new topic introduction, which is equally faulty from changing the main idea mid composition. Easily inferred though, the sentence either is or is meant to be the argumentation's opening and central claim.
The first part of an argumentation composition is a claim, followed by an appreciable reason for the claim, support of the claim, anticipated objections to the claim, objection rebuttal, and a conclusive finish, in that order. Focus is also an argumentation principle. One composition, one focused topic.
Now anon. "It's" is a sentence expletive when the pronoun portion of the contraction lacks an antecedent or easily understood implied subject. A sentence expletive is a meaningless placeholder sentence subject that relies for its meaning on the later predicate and object, which typically is the proper subject in the first place, of its sentence.
What does "it's" refer to? Eventually, the sentence gets to the point or subject or claim. The sentence in all has several grammar faults. Expletive fault, wordiness fault, negation fault, faulty adverb syntax. For argumentation composition, they are faults, though perhaps they are virtues for prose, or vices.
Though an informal composition may relax grammar more than a formal composition, an argumentation composition relies in the main on the clarity and strength of its argument's expression. Confusion and impotency are the stepchildren of faulty grammar and argumentation. Performance genre, like prose, may also relax grammar to a degree for the potentially overriding benefits of strong personal and emotional expression; however, clarity and strength are no less essential for prose than for argumentation.
"It's true," really? That's a strong and meaningless claim. Gets my back up immediately, being told something is true when no evidence is given beforehand or after to support that claim. The claim exhibits fauity organization and faulty argumentation.
Dickens does use expletives for the prologue lines of A Tale of Two Cities "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. . . ." The vice fades from the artful language, synchrisis, alliteration, and hyperbaton to name three among other rhetorical figures. Dickens' so-called run-on sentences are also artful virtues, demonstrated stream-of-consciousness techniques at the time emerging in prose usage. One of the rhetorical figures Dickens uses for steram-of-consciousness appeals is syndeton, both polysyndeton and asyndeton: abundance or absence of conjunctions, respectively. Syndeton may be a vice or a virtue, depending on decorum and artistic language mastery.
Mastery of language comes in no small part from a comprehensive appreciation of grammar's manifold principles. Rhetoric is the larger part, though. Actually, grammar is a subset of rhetoric.
The cite's second paragraph has another firmly asserted claim and potential grammar fault. Beginning a sentence with a conjunction is problematic, may be a fault. Beginning a paragraph with a conjunction is more so problematic and potentially faulty. Paragraph syntax is the fault. Contrast conjunctions like "but" join contrasting clauses. "Join" is the operative word. The grammar fault is paragraph separation in this case, not faulty diction or a faulty clause connection syntax. This is a compounding error and a vice. If a strong rhetorical function is intended and accessible, though, maybe then the fault might be a virtue instead. None therein rise to that occasion.
Never mind self-attention called to the alleged virtue of the fault. It is a vice; erroneously using a conjunction is not sensible and not aesthetically pleasing. That's a strong but unsupported claim that is absurd on its face in the first place. Claiming it is virtuous doesn’t make it so, not without clear and strong supporting evidence, which the example is not, nor is it supported. Rather, saying it is so self-contradicts the claim due to its circular argument. "Rule-bending choices demonstrate a command of language." Faulty grammar in and of itself demonstrates a faulty command of language.
An argument might persuasively arise that informal written-word language imitates everyday conversational speech; therefore, that everyday speech is virtuous for composition use. However, written-word compositions are rarely read as everyday conversational expression and oftentimes lack expressed vocal intonation and nonverbal and nonvocal expression that convey appreciable meaning during in-person conversation. Vocal tone and gestural language enhance and reinforce spoken words' meaning. Without those vocal intonation and gestural expression attachments, grammars in their own rights, the words' meaning may be inaccessible or nonexistent. Misunderstandings are sure to follow faulty grammar. Speech, like writing, is a social activity, not a dramatic monologue given as an incomprehensible command by a tin-pot-kingdom tyrant. Meaningful interpersonal communication skills rely on an effective grammar in personal conversation, in speech, as well as in writing. This is being human, social beings.
An argument might also be raised that using faulty grammar to ironically demonstrate its potential artistic virtues are open to variation is persuasive. However, faulty grammar use implying writers may use their own discretion at will does no one a helpful service.
Another argument might arise that writers recently past formative grammar education's restrictive expectations and conventions need to be told they are free now to exercise discretion. If they need to be told, they need to be told.
Traditional grammar learners are young. They've been told all their young lives what to do, how to act, how to behave, how to think, how to feel, how to write. No wonder they rebel a little at times prematurely. Tell them they are now adults welcome to the privileges and rights of adulthood. Tell them also adulthood is as much duty, obligation, and responsibility as it is a privilege and a right. Tell them the latter twice or more. Also tell them they are now eligible to join in the conversation, the adult conversation, among which is the conversation that writing is, if they need to be told. Otherwise, encourage continuing grammar and language arts skills development so their writing and arguments may become ever more persuasively appealing.
Another argument arises from the comparatively straightforward teaching and evaluation testing ease of basic grammar "rules." These rudimentary grammar principles are posed in grammar schooling--which extends beyond high school and college and may or should into life overall--as imperial and oppressive compressed principles because they are a set group that can be directly taught to and learned by developing minds. They are also comparatively simple to evaluate for if the principles taught have been grasped. This is why grammar schooling through the auspices of English teachers' unyielding instruction and exams are unflinching. Basic grammar teaching and learning and grammar testing are qualifiable and quanitfiable parameters and metrics.
A basic grammar school grammar primer from a recent-past era was a few tens of pages, if that many. A comprehensive grammar handbook currently may be thousands of pages. The expense for students, parents, and school districts for fundamental survey study books is already costly enough without prematurely loading on comprehensive though not definitive, all-encompassing books.
All too often grammar learners believe, because they've completed a grammar survey apprenticeship course of study to varying degrees of accomplishment, that they've learned all there is to know or all they need to learn to write reasonably persuasively enough. That is not so, not anymore, not with digital telecommunications now essential in every human social activity, including work. Maybe not in absolutely every activity, but nearly so. As humans age, too, their language sophistication advances, some by osmosis, picked up from entertainment and news and such media channels, tried out, and used going forward, sometimes erroneously. Further study throughout life is, therefore, warranted. Younger individuals may also appeal to and persuade broader--older and younger and sophisticated and unsophisticated--audiences through continued grammar studies into and after higher education.
A parting observation: The composer of the cite's argument clearly is an unsophisticated language user, demonstrated by flawed grammar and argumentation. A personal discovery that and proclaiming through the argument the writer--any writer--deserves a right to free expression discretion is a valid argument and a profound epiphany. That expression is as if it is an epiphany the writer wants to share with similar priorly grammar-bound writers. To share with them that expression is discretionary, is a valid declaration. Some errors are, of course, natural for less-skilled and inexperienced writers. This is how beings learn: trial and error, learning more from errors than not, even from those rare serendipities that are delightful errors in reverse.
The above cite's surface claim that inspired this lengthy argumentation composition, a problem and solution composition--all writing is argumentation--contains degrees of validity. Artful expression is discretionary expression. Personal expression is discretionary expression. However, faulty content and organization, faulty claims, faulty argumentation, and faulty grammar makes the cite's argument impotent.
Open a grammar book, please.