Blog in 05 2014.
It’s the Idler Academy’s Bad Grammar Award tonight. We were all set to write a post about it, explaining why awards that poke fun at people for their grammar faux-pas probably do more harm than good. But then the Guardian went and published this article, which sums it up really rather well from a linguistic point of view.
Still, we think there’s an important point they missed.
Our training is based around the idea that people write better when they enjoy it more. When they can express themselves without fear that at any moment they’ll be exposed as charlatans for a less-than-perfectly placed semicolon.
So although it’s important to keep a handle on your spelling, punctuation and grammar (we proofread everything we write before it leaves Writer HQ, after all), it’s more important that what you write makes people feel something in the first place.
Which is probably why we’ve got this quote from Stephen Fry up on the wall in our library.
There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.