My Prescription for Prescriptivists

Real Life Sep 12, 2010

In my more honest moments, I acknowledge to myself that I have all but finished my exodus from prescriptivism (linguistically speaking) to a more dynamic understand of language. I correct the grammar of my friends only in jest. I’ve thrown out those pesky lists that supposedly will turn me into a great writer. I’ve said my peace to Strunk and White.

Most of this was the fruit of my discovering that language was made for people, not the other way around. Like I’ve said before, creative writing does not come from rules. Rules came from people who studied creative writing and found a pattern.

Granted, I’m not sure it matters in the long run. Nobody ever understands what the heck I’m trying to say –rules or no rules.

The irony in all of this is that I’m still going to spend the next two semester memorizing Greek grammar rules.

What is more interesting to me is my own visceral reaction to improper spelling and grammar in writing. I join my cultural in berating any thinker who ignorantly or accidentally includes errors in his or her writing.

That’s stupid.

To hold a position that says, “Anyone who can’t spell or use proper grammar is an idiot” and conclude “therefore what they’re saying is not worth of my time.” is the height of both arrogance and, wait for it, idiocy. It is completely illogical to claim that, because one’s prose are wanting, his or her ideas must be wanting.

So here’s my idea: Why don’t we all get together and take a nice, big chill pill.

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