I hate to see grammar fall by the wayside

I hate to see grammar fall by the wayside

Lately, as I watch sportscasters and news anchors on my smarter than I am TV, it causes me to drop into former English teacher mode and ponder whether it is any longer important to speak what an English teacher (and my parents) term “proper grammar.”

I didn’t learn my manner of speaking in English classes, and I don’t believe anyone else does either. We speak what we hear at home or what the current trend is among a particular age group.

Growing up, we were taught everyone was judged by the way they spoke — whether they used such vernacular as ain’t, them guys or you’ns. Mother didn’t get over it for a month when a young man on the phone asking for my sister and her friend said, “Ain’t they came in yet?”

According to English teachers, grammar is the rules of arranging words into sentences. If you sound illiterate or inarticulate, you will not be an effective speaker. Yet today much of the thought is people have grown tired of thinking you have to know grammar to speak well and that the only thing you need to be worried about is the thoughts and emotions being communicated with the listener.

It bothers me when I hear “poor” grammar spoken, but only because I was taught to believe the rules set forth are the only correct way to speak. I’m not so sure that is true today. If professional sportscasters and news anchors can, as Mother used to say, “murder the king’s English” and not be penalized for it, then it may not be as important as some of us think.

What I do know, though, is there is a big difference between speaking and writing incorrect grammar.

Recently, it seems everyone and his brother is writing and publishing a book. Self-publishing used to be a blot on the author’s credibility, but today anyone can publish anything without corrections, without sense, without correct grammar. Unscrupulous publishing companies are making tons of money by publishing some of the worst writing ever to hit the book stands.

From my first professional pay check 66 years ago until today, I still know bona fide publishers of magazines, books and newspapers will not accept writing that does not go by the rules. That does not just mean using the proper tenses, sentence structures and punctuation, but it also means adhering to style — another set of rules that sometimes changes. For example, until a few years ago, when you typed a story, you left two spaces after a period. Someone logically changed that to one. With style you need to know how to write dates, times, money, use quotation marks correctly and a whole lot more. If you don’t, a real publisher will not accept any of your hard work.

Maybe like cursive writing, proper grammar is not considered important as long as you are communicating. I hate to see it fall by the wayside, especially since much of today’s generation’s communication is in abbreviation on a cellphone (lol). Perhaps we will soon be speaking to each other through telepathy — no grammar needed, no words spoken. Sometimes I do long for the “good old days.”

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