Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grammaire, grand'mère?

Oh woe is me, for I shall soon be undone!  I have begun to snap at grammar pedants when in fairness I used to be one myself.  Why do some people think that sloppiness in grammar, or rather the use in writing of expressions which are common in speech, shows that ones ideas are fundamentally flawed?

I'm all for clarity and elegance, and the removal of ambiguity, unless it serves a purpose, as it may do in imaginative writing, but I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist if someone says "Me and my beloved cat" instead of "My beloved cat and I".  I cringe more at the over-correct incorrect grammar of "He saw John and I", but even that gram-crime can be forgiven so long as I understand the content.

I believe that grammatical "rules" are based on usage, and usage is clearly changing. Different languages have different rules.  "My husband and I" - English.   "Mon mari et moi" - French.
Usage, habit, what people say. What's easier to say. What's clear and simple. Not rigid rules of subject and object.  And yes, English is changing.  "Me and my husband" is commonplace - not to be confused with common and vulgar.

Language has evolved, is evolving, and will continue to do so. Have we reached such perfection that we should preserve ourselves in aspic?

Or is it more the attitude of those pedants who sneer that gets right up my nose?

Although - I would love to be able to discreetly correct (split infinitive, see what I did there?) those who write "your mad!"  "your brilliant!" " your doing ok".   But their (ha ha ha) not incomprehensible,  are they?

Something that possibly touches on this obliquely.

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