Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grammar Day

Happy Grammar Day!

I love grammar. It used to be because I'm the sort of person who likes black and white, right and wrong. There are rules in grammar, and they make sense, at least to me. (I know, you think that they don't make sense, but trust me, they do. You just have to dig deep enough.)

I never learned grammar in school, so I think that's why I took an interest in it. I never got to diagram sentences or make trees. So grammar was some mysterious secret. A secret that makes most people nervous, true, but it was just intriguing to me.

So I took a few grammar classes my first semester of college. Wow! My eyes were opened. There are many kinds of grammar, I learned. I'd always assumed that prescriptive grammar is the only kind. When you think grammar, you're most likely thinking of prescriptive grammar. It is exactly what the name implies-- those are the grammar rules that "prescriptivists" prescribe to people. Some rules make sense, others are just stupid. (Like that splitting infinitives are wrong.)

There is also descriptive grammar. That's what linguistics use to simply describe what happens when we speak and write. They don't judge what is "right" or "wrong" They do not try to change people's habits, they simply document them.

Mental grammar is what we have in our heads. We are born with the ability to communicate in our brain, which is amazing. We're not pre-wired to play piano, or golf, or sew. But God gave us the ability to understand a language and pick it up within just the first few years of life. Our brains are a super-computers! That we can speak not one, but three or four languages is a miracle. That is a feat! I'm realizing that language is not an accident the more I study linguistics. You're reading this so your brain is taking the shapes on the screen and interpreting them into ideas and words. That is no easy feat. We are still struggling to make computers understand language the way the human brain does.

Language is a miracle. So even if you don't know the difference between "you're" and "your," be grateful that you can read, write, and speak, because it is amazing that you can!


P.S. If you want to know more about National Grammar Day, click here.


Ana said...

wow, i learned something from this post :) and i love that you love grammar so much. and i love that you're my crazy, grammar-loving, paper-editing roomie!!

The Millers said...

You are so cute! I just want to put you in my pocket! It was no surprise to me that you have grown into such an amazing woman! Keep up the good work. I am a bit of a grammar person as well.

The thing that bothers me the most about people and their grammar is when they say "they could care less" instead of "they couldn't care less", maybe it was my upbringing (my Mom always correcting our grammar) but it bothers the heck out of me when people say that! It's like, you COULD care less, so it must not be that bad eh? Lol. Anyway, cute blog entry.