Online opinion

24th May 2013 at 01:00
Is good grammar still important?

- I'm interested in what other people think (about grammar). We have a couple of Chomskyites here and some who insist that language is always evolving.


- Is it not a matter of priorities? Which is more important when language is used: effective expression of meaning or grammatical conventions?


- A bit of both, no? I see the two as being interlinked - many conventions have developed either because we need a standard everyone understands or because they are inherently clearer.


- I was under the impression that effective expression of meaning was best achieved through the correct adherence to grammatical conventions. I say that as someone who messes up grammar daily.


- The trouble comes when the standard becomes a priority in its own right. We've all seen posters criticising someone's use of grammar and ignoring the point they were making.


- Accuracy is important. We all make errors but educated people should follow fundamental grammatical conventions.


- You need to know the rules of grammar before you can play around with them. A bit like abstract painting - Picasso messed about with the rules of drawing, painting and perspective, but he mastered the rules first. He was a brilliant draughtsman.


- Grammar is inherent in spoken language and children learn it as they learn to speak. Children brought up bilingual master two different grammar structures early in life.

Geoff Thomas


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