On Grammar, Etiquette and Rules

Trust me, I know this is not the sexiest of topics, but if I’ve ever claimed to be anything, it hasn’t been “sexy,” no-sir-ee.

Here’s what I have to say, in a nutshell, if you don’t feel like watching the video below:

  • Grammar, etiquette, and rules in general, exist to make our lives easier and run more smoothly, avoid social awkwardness, and maximize our safety (traffic laws, for example).
  • Knowing the difference between good and bad grammar enables oneself to recognize the nuances in the voices of writers and speakers. For example, if a typically well-spoken person says “you done real good, boy,” one can assume that stylistically, the speaker is choosing to sound “folksy.” By contrast, if one has no understanding of good and bad grammar, all nuance is lost on them. Jokes are missed. The same can be said for people who have no understanding of good/bad etiquette.
  • Good grammar implies legitimacy. Simple enough. My feeling is that if you believe that what you have to say is important enough that you want strangers to read it on the Internet, then it’s your duty to write it in the most accessible fashion possible. This is my major complaint with bloggers who refuse to use capital letters. Refusing to use good grammar not only makes one’s content difficult to understand, but it carries an air of arrogance.
  • Exceptions: When using the right grammar/etiquette would be more inappropriate than using the wrong grammar/etiquette. For example: seven guys are on a fishing trip for a week; none of them are shaving, and each of them only brought one change of clothes. Though the “proper” thing to do is wear clean clothes, it would be bizarre and somewhat jerkish if one guy shaved every day and wore spotless clothes, on principle, to make the others look oafish. In that case, the dude doing the “right” thing is totally in the wrong. Etiquette exists to make things less awkward, not more awkward.
And if you have seven minutes, here is the expanded version, in video format:
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1 Comment

  1. Etiquette and Bad Grammar: Is there a Connection? « Text Tiles for American Intellectual Infrastructure

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