Friday, January 29, 2016

Turning Back the Grammar Nazis

Among people, there are the linguistic sticklers; and there are those who are more relaxed about it. I can't help but sense that those who correct others' grammar or speech relish an opportunity to demonstrate their English bonafides by correcting others' usage unbidden. Goodness, I got that kind of crap when I used Cajun French or Louisiana Creole in Paris! Yes, that guy in My Fair Lady was right: the way an Englishman speaks absolutely classifies him. And some come out sounding like snobs or jerks.

The two biggest issues are the splitting of infinitives and whether it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition.

Language purists have long taken umbrage with the Star Trek opening lines: "To boldly go where no man has gone before." They choke, harrumph, and whine over the daringness of breaking the cool lines of the infinitive "To go" by placing 'boldly' between those two words. Hey, you all: it's okay. Split all those infinitives you wish. As a bonus, feel gleefully sinful when you do it.




The other faux grammatical mistake is that you can't end a sentence with a preposition. Therefore, this charming poem submitted in a discussion on the rule is invalid:

One day it was on.
The next day it was off.
What happened to happily ever after?
To have her near.
To have her around.
Feelings of remorse and regret came up.
Maybe one day, one day this would all pass by.


Actually, this "rule" came from the notion that English should use similar grammatical rules as Latin. That's a language that is as dead as a doornail. And attempting to follow this rule can lead to awkward sentences.

"Shall I take my clothes off?" sounds better than "Shall off I take my clothes?"







16 comments:

John Hill said...

Split infinitives have never really bothered me. Trying to form a sentence so that it doesn't end in a preposition can indeed be awkward at times.

One of my little pet peeves is "Where are you at?" instead of "Where are you?"
The at is not necessary.

Mariette said...

It's people who shoot their mouths off that bothers me.

Linda Kay said...

Great post. Need to share this with Janie Junebug, the editor Nazi!

Cloudia said...

Good writers have an instinct for when to break the rules, Angel!

Mike said...

I guess it all depends on what you are used to hearing as you grow up. Split infinitives probably go right by me without notice. I'm still not used to people using the word data as plural. When someone says 'the data are...' it's like fingernails on a blackboard to me.

Grand Crapaud said...

'Shall off I take my clothes' sounds like asking permission to relocate a wardrobe.

Chuck Bear said...

Datum is singular; data is plural.

Cherdo said...

I teach Latin and it's much more forgiving and easy to use than English, lol.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Please do take your clothes off, and post pics!

allenwoodhaven said...

I'm not bothered by others "errors" but often notice them. It really doesn't matter much. The point is to communicate so if I understand what is meant, then why fret about it?

My mother was annoyed by adjectives being used in place off adverbs. I correct myself at times for that.

Bilbo said...

Split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions are not particularly serious grammar issues and should be ignored. I think it was Winston Churchill who once said that complaining about ending sentences with prepositions was the sort of foolishness "up with which I will not put."

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Oh dear, I love the cartoon (Khartun)!

Blue Grumpster said...

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Blue Grumpster said...

If her clothes go off I don't care how she says it. I know...

Blue Grumpster said...

If her clothes go off I don't care how she says it. I know...

Insane Penguin said...

Let her clothes come off!