Using language

IMG_0493Do you remember this guy? Yes, that’s right, he’s that teacher who insisted that you follow the grammar rules, every last one of them.

You don’t see him much these days but he’s still around.

He’s that voice you hear every time you write something, the one that insists that words have to be used in certain ways.

In writing circles, he is referred to as the inner critic, and he has his uses if we want to be understood by our readers.

If he was the only critic we had to deal with, life would be more bearable.

Unfortunately, he has a host of followers in the world outside our heads. You may have encountered one or two in your travels. These are the people that like to point out every grammatical error they see, regardless of the context in which it appears.  The language has a word for them: pedants.

I say language usage depends on the context in which the words are being used. If you’re writing an academic paper or sitting for an English language exam it’s probably important to follow all the rules. If you’re writing a letter email it’s not so important. What’s important is that the message sent is clear enough that it is understood. If you use ‘are’ where the rules say you should use ‘is’ (for example, the staff are friendly) we all get the message, even if the pedants insist you should say the staff is friendly.

Here’s a little something on this topic I found by following a link within a link on Twitter the other night that I enjoyed watching. I hope you like it.

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