You may be thinking I am running out of titles… 🙂
But I actually am talking about that age old question: Which came first?
And bringing my searing intellectual insight to it.. .. when you’re done laughing… now?….now? 😦
I love words. I love seeing them used in different and unexpected ways, which leads me into constant battles with the wriggly, disapproving lines of Word. And it would seem with my fellow scribblers.
So which came first, grammar or language?
Much like the chicken and the egg, they are different forms of the same thing. Grammar is the name we give to the structure of language, the study of it and the conventions that help guide us in communicating clearly. How this adds up to the LAWS YOU MUST NOT TRANSGRESS OR THE UNIVERSE WILL BE RIPPED ASUNDER, I’m still unsure.
Unlike the chicken and the egg – I’m going to be a wee bitty controversial here – I believe language always comes first. Language is fluid, grammar like the shoreline constantly changing with its whim; though it might seem immutable it is far from absolute or all encompassing, every rule no more nor less than our best way of summarising..
If we abided by rules we’d still be grunting at one another and most of the words you have read, spoken, heard, the jokes that have made you wee yourself, the poems that told you weren’t alone and the songs that have dredged up those can’t-believe-I-almost-forgot memories, would never have been. Everything we have owes something to language and those who pushed and stretched it: the light above your head, the apps on your screen, the coffee steaming by your side..
Language, as is, as was and as it will be, serves life. The only thing a writer need concern themselves with asking is, what do I need from it?
And I would dearly love to see fiction writers encouraged to do this, rather than shut down.
There are even rules set up like break time at school, if you keep to this area, for a short amount of time, you can run free.. within reason…..Dialogue, permissible, occasionally in first person POV
Well my considered response to that is……………………………………………
Prose is cinematography. It is what we use to convey a world, an era, a reality. How can you fill a bathtub with an ocean if you aren’t willing to get a little wet?
Those who seek to use grammar to reduce and restrict language do so out of a desire to control which always arises out of fear. Fear they will find themselves out of their depth and fear of being wrong. Rules mean you can learn to never fail.
Bad writing is not incorrect grammar. There is no such thing, only the uncommon, unappealing, and unclear. We constantly break the rules and yet, still manage to understand Yoda 🙂 And that’s the thing: We’re not breaking anything except new ground, without which we cannot grow.
The only immutable truth of language is, it will evolve. Neither you nor I – and definitely not they – can stop it.
And I love it.