Thursday, 4 March 2010
If you're wondering about the fireworks and the parade and about why your editor has brought a selection of festive and tasty treats to the office today, it's because it's National Grammar Day. (National Grammar Day!! What's next, National Punctuation Day?!? Yes.) National Grammar Day commemorates a famous battle in which the forces who were determined to stamp out "hopefully" as a sentence modifier were defeated by a valiant and plucky band of descriptive linguists and progressive editors.
Haha, not really.
In general, I cringe at anything that purports to "raise people's awareness" of grammar, because that generally devolves into the self-annointed experts whinging at length about how people's sloppy ways are ruining English. (Yawn.) Thus I was pleased to read two very good posts about NGD which seem, imo, to emphasize the good side of raising one's grammar awareness. The first post is by John McIntyre (who else), who notes that ...
One way to make [National Gramamr Day] substantial — no, not by acting as an officious prig and peever — is to practice the craft to produce more effective writing.A laudable call to arms. Which he follows up with suggestions like getting yourself some decent writing advice, and of course, hiring an editor.
Then there is a post by Gabe Doyle that says everything I ever wanted to say about what it really means to study grammar:
My problem with National Grammar Day (and most popular grammarians in general) is that it suggests that the best part of studying language is the heady rush of telling people that they shouldn’t say something. But if you really study language, you know that there’s so much more to it than that.As a bonus, Gabe includes a "Ten More Common Grammar Myths, Debunked" list, which includes items like:
He's posted about these things before, so if you don't believe him, you can click the links and go read his exegeses on each of the debunked myths.
- Singular they is standard English.
- Slow is an adverb.
- Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style isn’t a good grammar reference book.
And now I return to my day job as an editor, which consists of -- haha -- telling people that they shouldn't say something. Over and out.