Saturday, 13 October 2007

Grammar is the grave of language

Swami Nikhilaananda says:
"Unsolicited advice seldom carries value, though is gold, is discarded by the fools"


"Grammar is the grave of language" - This line was thrown on my face by my friend about two years back because I had this "nauseating" (nauseating for the ignorant) habit of correcting grammatical errors of people.

Well, I for one believe in speaking a language as clearly as possible, by following every grammatical rule which exists - There is only one reason for this, and that is because the rule exists. We follow rules because they are made. You might feel "I am a rebel, I love to break rules... Atleast I don't." So, if I used to come across people using incorrect words or words in wrong places, I used to correct them as soon as possible. Now when I say people I mean very close friends only. And many of them feel offended if they are corrected. To err is human, to forgive divine, but to correct them is hellish. Here are some incidents - Don't tell me you would not feel tempted to correct them.

I am going with my friend in a bus at 10 am and we get caught in a traffic jam. He turns around and tells me "Man, I can't believe there are so many people in the wee hours of the day. " Mind you, it's ten. I told him about wee, and of course he felt offended.

And yeah, not to forget one of the biggest errors committed by people, which I am almost sure even you would commit - The opposite of postpone is advance and NOT prepone. I tried to correct most of my friends even asked them to check for its existence in the dictionary, but then all I got in return was - "Hey man, I am not a Brit like you", or "who cares" or "Grammar is the grave of language, we use language just to put across information - So I will still use it"

I still don't understand why you have to impress someone by using big words - Like someone told me, the objective of language is effective communication, it has to be concise, precise rather than elaborate and too flowery.

You don't have to put up a fake accent to show you know good english or use heavy words either. A lot of people use certain words over and over again (cliches) and beyond a certain level, they become intolerable. It's better to speak using simple english clearly than speaking with accents and using words in wrong places without knowing the meanings. Be clear while speaking, remember it's the idea which matters and how you put it across, not the accent (unless you are working in a BPO) Some people think of words which mean something similar to to be a synonym and usage of such words will just project your ignorance.

Finally I learnt my lesson - it's better to correct myself silently. Now I just nod along even when someone says - "I spoke to the Mr. Ganesh" because I know I am not here to correct the world. I do tell people if I am asked, but then someone whispers the sentence "Grammar is the grave of language" into my ear, and I just smile.

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