Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: English sentences

More Conversation about Grammar . . .


Grammar conversation

Photo by orijinal on Foter.com / CC BY

The first post in this discussion—A Blog Conversation about Grammar—looked at the word history of “grammar” and revealed that many “rules” of English grammar are actually rules for Latin…

In fact, the trustworthy article about grammar that I excerpted said: “There’s a simple test that usually exposes a phony rule of grammar: If it makes your English stilted and unnatural, it’s probably a fraud.”

So, I was happy when an author I know, from Australia, was kind enough to comment on that last post…

Instead of plunking her entire comment down in one quote, I need to share it a sentence at a time and engage in a discussion with her…

“I absorbed all the grammar I know from reading and from learning a foreign language.”

Well…

I tried to learn French and Latin; but, my brain seemed to want to eternally linger in English—reading, though… Omnivorous…

“Reading books taught me what worked and what didn’t in English sentences and I never gave a thought that those sentences were actually following a set of rules.”

I’ve read (somewhere…) that grammar is “potentially” present in the mind at birth—some feel there’s a proto-grammar that can “come forth” in whatever language the child learns—mapping itself to the lay of the language-land…

This is why I think, “…what worked and what didn’t in English sentences…”, is a perfectly reasonable response to reading—we innately, intuitively “know” whether the grammar in the sentences we read is “correct”. Naturally, this capability matures over time, and more fruitfully, when a person exposes themselves to many different texts…

Children learn to talk without needing a complex set of rules—not at all strange to say because the child would need to already have learned how to use words before they could internalize a set of rules…

“To me the only point of a well wrought sentence is that it conveys its meaning beautifully and powerfully.”

She said: “…well wrought…”.

Here’s the word history of “wrought”:

mid-13c., from past participle of Middle English werken (see work (v.)). Wrought iron (1703) is that which is malleable and has been brought into some form.

So… using good grammar in writing is taking certain “malleable” ideas and bringing them “into some form”—a form that is “beautiful” and “powerful”…

Here’s the remainder of her comment:

“Grammar is evolving all the time because most modern languages are evolving…Latin no longer changes and I guess that is why its grammar does not either. What will be the biggest influence on grammar in the future ? I am gonna guess texting…. :-) “

I’m gonna guess that she’s joking about texting—only because I see it as a temporary phenomenon that will disappear when digital talking is completely verbally rendered—no more amazingly trained digits speeding over a keyboard…

Yet…

English grammar will transform, as our collective human mind evolves—taking that which is malleable and bringing it into some form…

The next conversation post is this coming Monday and it only takes one more comment to keep this topic going :-)
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