This week the Concordian is introducing “Viewpoints,” a new feature where writers voice their collective opinions on a wide array of topics. Let us hear your voice, or submit an idea via @CCLendMeYourEar on Twitter or at the Concordia College Lend Me Your Ear Facebook page! This week’s head to head: check your grammar, this being a newspaper and all!
Just use correct grammar
Katelyn Henagin, Opinions Columnist
Say, cobber kids, if you don’t mind my confirming, you have all been writing for a few years right? Okay, well then, I would love to talk about grammar. Yes, the composition of the English language. I’m going to tell you a couple gripes I have with some people’s complete lack of a grasp on the English language. Here is the beginning and the end of it. It is not weird to know the differences between “their,” “there” and “they’re”; “to” and “too”; and “then” and “than.” These are actually different words with different meanings. Unlike the inability to type, which I possess, or misspellings, which I can forgive, incorrect words drive me insane. Furthermore, deliberate disregard for grammar does not make you cool, a leader or a hipster. It makes you look incredibly stupid. So please for the love of all that is holy. Step up to the plate, and master “who” versus “whom.” Also, “a” and “an” are used in situations based on sound; it is not shameful to say it out loud. For example, an hour has passed a clock’s face. And let’s be real, subject-verb agreement is key, because you isn’t going to say they is crazy and that I are smart. Alright, now let us go forth and speak/write correctly.
It’s okay to be a ‘word hipster’
Patrick Ross, Opinions Editor
I consider myself a “word hipster” in that I’m beyond “they’re,” “their,” and “there” now that the masses think it’s important (but seriously, get it right). I also like using the old-fashioned oxford comma (like in the first sentence). Maybe a better term for it would be “language libertarian.” The self-proclaimed “grammar Nazis” can be great to have around; they’re greatly useful to have when you’re not sure about a particular contraction and you have a deep-seated distrust in spell check. However, being an advocate for the knowledge and correct usage of “you’re” and “your” doesn’t qualify you as a grammar enforcer, but as a learned third grader.
We all will occasionally slip up (it’s/its is a particular crutch of mine), but that shouldn’t matter. If I see another Facebook status or thread correcting each successive person on the you’re/your differentiation, I’ll throw a dictionary. At this point, if you cannot use your contractions and heterographic homophones (I’ll admit I had to look up that particular gem of a term), it’s not worth the time to try and change it. I’d much rather delve into bigger and better words, a vociferous cavalcade of wordplay where a thesaurus, not a grammar book, is your guiding light. It becomes about the ability to play with form and sentence structure, pulling out the stops and learning more obscure punctuation. While an incorrect usage of they’re/their/there may detract from your credibility, if you can throw in a proper semi-colon I’ll be much more impressed.
Break Rules Intelligently
Carrie Johansen, Copy Editor
This debate is often broken into “rules-based” and “communication-based” camps. It is usually a war between accuracy and communication. As with most two-sided discussions, there is a logical and happy middle.
Word choice and the ability to differentiate between basic definitions are essential to the thoughtful organization of ideas. However, definitions and usage tendencies of words change over time. Actual punctuation continues to tie words together.
Knowing the difference between “insure” and “ensure” makes you sound more intelligent, but it is more important than that. You see strengths and flaws in other arguments based upon the placement of a comma. You appreciate the strength of a semi-colon over a conjunction in tying two sentences together. You actually are more intelligent.
Furthermore, dependence on spelling and grammar checkers will inevitably lead you down the wrong road. Do a quick Google search to check a rule, because my experience has proven technology cannot replace comprehension.
This knowledge also brings the reader on your precise intellectual journey. When you and the reader understand the rules, you can break them intelligently, and your audience will feel the shift.
Sophomore year, I ended a music history paper with a preposition. While I knew it was wrong, and that it would bother my professor, I used the breaking of rules as a theme that framed the rest of my argument. And yet, I was sure to tell her it was intentional.
So, good cobbers, please learn your rules. And then break them intelligently for effect.