Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Grammar do and grammar don't

Last time there was a teachers' strike, I put the blog on strike for a day; this time round, I've decided not to. I'm on strike but have decided that the blog is a labour of love, for which I get no payment, and anyway, I update it so infrequently at the moment that nobody would be able to tell it's on strike. A bit like my teaching, in fact...

Anyway, today's post is a quick one about the rules of grammar - which ones to worry about and which ones not to - by The Guardian's Style Guide author David Marsh. In it he deals with some of the arguments people have about things like split infinitives, starting sentences with conjunctions, who/whom and all the rest of it.

It's a particularly useful article for A2 students looking at ENGA3 and Language Discourses, but is also handy for anyone who cares about writing clearly and how clarity can be improved with a a bit of careful thought.

9 comments:

Jennie Mitton said...

I think that the author is slightly prescriptivist however in my opinion he has to be because he is writing an article about the wrongs of the English language. To do this he has to believe the English language has rules and that these should be obeyed which make him prescriptivist. He also comes across as a descriptivist as he shows that some rules aren't too be taken too seriously and how because language changes all the time rules change which at times he seems to have a positive attitude towards.

Sarah said...

I believe that the author of this article is a bit of both, descriptivist and prescriptivist. He seems to not like the idea that language has changed seen as the whole of the article is based on language change and he reiterates how much, in time, it has changed.
However, he shows another side to him and this is the descriptivist side as he shows that some rules change over time and there is nothing that can be done about this. He also has a slightly positive attitude towards language change and is very light hearted about some rules for example 'Don't get in a bad mood over the subjunctive'.

Liam said...

I think the author is both prescriptivist and descriptivist because he talks about both the grammar rules that we should both forget and remember, acknowledging that technology is moving forward and that different rules apply to different circumstances. He writes about how people need to remember certain rules and even writes an 'easy-to-remember formula. He then shows his positive attitude by saying in a different part 'you rarely see the possessive form in newspapers' and it 'sounds pompus'.

Daniel Bright said...

I think the author here is both prescriptivist and descriptivist. The author portrays his prescriptivist side by pointing out the wrongs of grammar such as 'double negatives' and the problem with the understanding of 'plurals and singulars'. Furthermore he points out that language doesn't work is such a logical way in which people may think and expected to be negative upon grammar and that is the point of the article.
However, there is a descriptivist side to this author, as even though he may state the rules of grammar and how they are used incorrectly, he also states that some rules are incorrect and should be ignored. Such as the splitting the infinitive rule. He also states that rules are changing and takes a lighthearted approach in saying that it cannot be helped.

Luke Heavnes said...

I believe the author here has both features of a prescriptivist and descriptivist. The author makes a clear point there have been many negative changes in language such as 'double negatives' they acknowledge that English has got to have certain rules.
However,he also shows many features that shouldn't be took to serious and accepts that some change may be good and is only natural with Britain changing as a country, He state that although their are many rules not all of them should be taken serious.He shows this when explaining the difference between the bored with Tunbridge wells instead of bored of Tunbridge wells when in fact the difference is so minimal that it almost is no change .

Amina said...

I think the author (David Marsh) is more of a descriptivist than a prescriptivist because his article is based on the grammar rules that we can forget which suggests that he doesn't believe all of them are important to us as they perhaps used to be.
He believes that correct grammar isn't always the best. This shows that he embraces language change and doesn't always follow by 'the rules'. He also uses humorous side headings to talk about the use of grammar. This implies he does not take the rules of grammar too seriously like some prescriptivism may tend to do.

Axsa said...

I believe the author is more of a descriptivist because his article is based on the grammar rules we can forget. This implies that he doesn’t believe all the rules are important and that they should always be used. This suggests that the author is happy to embrace the change in language

Abbie Shaw said...

The author seems both prescriptivist and descriptivist in what he is trying to portray. He explains his opinions on grammatical change and the wrongs of english both negatively and positively, the prescriptivist is demonstrated in the section about 'Double negatives'.
The author shows his descriptivist side by using humour in parts for example 'what we shouldn't take so seriously' and making references to song lyrics and cultural references.

Maryia said...

Maryia

I think that the author is both descriptivist and prescriptivist.He states that rules change over time and shouldn't be taken too seriously even though they are many rules in the English Language. They have been very negative changes and refers to them as 'double negatives.' He also uses humour by relating to song lyrics.