Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Design and Some Thoughts on Grammar

And here it is! The new NaNo themed design is up and viewable to all! What do you think? I'm particularly fond of the banner. The picture I used to make it is gorgeous. Alright, now that I've stopped gushing over the new design for the blog, it's time for two other things to be discussed. 1) update on letter game and 2) a discussion on grammar (that is actually a paper I had to do for Wednesday).



First, the letter game update. I have now received letter #2 from my friend (I received it on Monday) and I am in the process now of writing letter #3. I have only one paragraph done at the moment, but I should be able to finish it very soon.



Secondly, the discussion of grammar and here it is!



Grammar: Correctness vs. Clarity


I shall start off this discussion with the two quotes that I liked the most from the chapter: “God does not much mind bad grammar, but He does not take any particular pleasure in it”—Erasmus, and “English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment, and education—sometimes it’s sheer luck, like getting across the street.”—E. B. White. It is the latter quote that pertains more to what struck me as interesting. Rules don’t do much to explain grammar and how it’s used. Sometimes it is sheer luck that you hit upon a grammatical combination that does make sense and sounds correct. Here we run into another issue: correctness vs. clarity.


To what point should correctness (according to grammar rules) be held over clarity? Firstly, what does being “correct” entail for careful writers? Should we follow every rule to the letter? Or should we throw all of that out the window because grammar rules just can’t apply to us? I propose that neither position is entirely correct. On the one hand, you have stilted and formal, but grammatically correct, writing. On the other, you have a confused mess which no one but yourself can understand. Here is where clarity comes in. We must be able to read what you have written (which means you have to follow some rules) but we need to be able to relate to the content and the manner in which it is written (so there’s no reason to follow all the nonsense rules of grammar).


Clarity must be the ultimate, defining standard that shapes our writing. It determines how much and how little “proper” grammar is needed and when and where it should be used. If we cannot understand what a writer is saying then can we care about their grammar? Correctness and clarity work hand in hand to make a piece of writing presentable. We cannot have one without the other. Correctness without clarity is difficult to understand and relate to. And one cannot imagine how one can have clarity without some correctness (grammar) involved in the process.


It is my opinion that clarity should weigh more heavily in the balance than correct grammar. Sometimes it is necessary for some of the less sensible rules to be ignored, especially when they serve only to ‘be correct’ and to muddy the meaning of the writing. Yes grammar rules are there for a reason and if we do not follow the most important of them then we risk looking uneducated and muddying our meaning. Yet some rules just exist for those nitpicks out there who just can’t stop picking a writer’s grammar apart, however good they may be. Grammar rules should exist only to promote clarity, not to annoy writers and cause them hardship. If applied correctly, “correctness” and clarity should enable writers to convey their ideas in a readable format.



Until next time!

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