Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

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spot
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Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by spot »

I shall restrict myself to English Grammar.

This thread is devoted to the rules as given, and why they are wrong, and what should replace those rules.

It will all be very simple. Reasons will be given.

The last person of note to attempt this was George Bernard Shaw and what he offered was very sensible. It's unfortunate that he was ignored.

This time round, we'll do it right and get the revised rules into general use.
Nullius in verba ... ☎||||||||||| ... To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.
When flower power came along I stood for Human Rights, marched around for peace and freedom, had some nooky every night - we took it serious.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by spot »

Shaw, as an aside, promulgated spelling reform. His actual proposal was badly thought out, which is why it fell on stony ground. Shaw's proposed new alphabet had new letters "distinct from the Latin alphabet to avoid the impression that the new spellings were simply misspellings". Nobody was prepared to learn them. The right approach is to make the spelling mistakes. Aftur a fiu minits xpowjur, reeding fonetik Inglish iz ded eezee - it kan ownli bee voyst wun wai.
Nullius in verba ... ☎||||||||||| ... To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.
When flower power came along I stood for Human Rights, marched around for peace and freedom, had some nooky every night - we took it serious.
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game! ... My other OS is Slackware.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by spot »

There is a part-way stage in spelling reform, which is to aim at the low hanging fruit.

"ea", for example.

I red a buk yesterday. Toomorow I wil reed anuthur. I led a low hart. I wil leed yu furthur astray. Led has a kemikul simbul ov Pb.

I have no idea what the single-syllable sound "ea" originally represented in the 16th century, as in "sea" for instance, but it has definitely diverged since. So, in my opinion, should the spelling. If anyone can think of a word where the single-syllable "ea" still sounds like "ea" pleese post it to the thread. Failing that, no word spelled with a single-syllable "ea" should remain that way. Single-syllable "ea" is abolished henceforth as an illegal letter combination. The two syllable "ea" (like "kreeayt", "reeakt" and "preeambul") is still valid.
Nullius in verba ... ☎||||||||||| ... To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.
When flower power came along I stood for Human Rights, marched around for peace and freedom, had some nooky every night - we took it serious.
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game! ... My other OS is Slackware.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by spot »

There is pedantry and then there is good sense.

The grammar rules relating to the simple future tense are about when you may use "I will" and when you may instead use "I am going to".

By all means look them up. The rules have very little to do with what most people actually say. Most people actually say "Ah'm gunner" or "I'm gunna" depending on where they grew up. They say "I will" when they display petulance and stamp their foot. Nothing to do with grammar.

Purely on the grounds of taste, we can simply ban "I'm gunna" entirely. We can all invariably say "I will" by simply discounting the fine niceties of that page of the rules of grammar. You'll save three syllables every time and it stops you sounding as thick as two short planks. Promise yourself never to use "I am going to" for the rest of your life and you'll go up one Approximated Social Grade overnight.
Nullius in verba ... ☎||||||||||| ... To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.
When flower power came along I stood for Human Rights, marched around for peace and freedom, had some nooky every night - we took it serious.
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game! ... My other OS is Slackware.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by spot »

Never lard every sentence with "know what I mean". I've had to walk out of rooms sometimes to get away from hearing the constant repetition.
Nullius in verba ... ☎||||||||||| ... To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.
When flower power came along I stood for Human Rights, marched around for peace and freedom, had some nooky every night - we took it serious.
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game! ... My other OS is Slackware.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by spot »

Gender has become a matter of controversy of late in the matter of personal pronouns. There appear to be three stances - Gender blindness, gender inclusivity and gender intolerance.

We could, should we need an example, mention Grayson Perry, born male, who has frequently cross-dressed since his teenage years, adopting on occasion the name Claire. There are historical accounts of such transvestism going back centuries, it has a long-standing place in British culture.

Some people cross-dress permanently and present themselves exclusively in their alter-form. This also goes back centuries and (for females presenting as men) can result from gender discrimination. Women who were culturally forbidden from various trades or professions (surgeon, doctor, religious minister, naval rating, to list a few) took employment by such means. Others took a similar step simply by personal preference. Examples could be listed.

More recently, body modification has taken this field further. All of these positions have a bearing on the grammatical controversy under discussion.

Gender intolerance is the historical position and has authority as taught grammar. It says that the speaker knows how to apply pronouns grammatically on the basis of his own personal knowledge, and that the choice of the person being spoken of or addressed is immaterial.

Gender inclusivity says that for each individual referenced or addressed, the person may make their preference regarding personal pronouns known and that it is impolite to use any other. I don't know whether Grayson Perry has made such a declaration either in his own right or as Claire. I suspect it would be impolite to refer to Claire as he or him but that's the extent of my cultural awareness, which is quite probably slim.

Where a person has permanently adopted a new presentation, matters get tricky. If Alice now goes by the name of Bob then it would clearly be impolite to refer to Bob today as Alice or she, or address Bob as Alice. The complication of dead-naming - speaking historically of the person at a time before Alice had transitioned by the name Alice - is extreme. To take an instance, my record collection has an album of works credited to Walter Carlos and a later album credited to Wendy Carlos. It might be difficult to say "Stanley Kubrick wrote to Wendy Carlos inviting her to collaborate" when the letter in question actually has "Walter" and "him" in Stanley's handwriting. I have no idea how gender inclusivity copes with such puzzles. I suspect it's damned if you don't and damned if you do.

Gender blindness is a completely different approach to grammar. It involves using pronouns and paraphrasing where needed, to make gender determination impossible just by examining the pronouns themselves. It centers on re-using the modern-day third person plural "they/them/their" as a third person singular, which has historical precedent in written English before the laying down of prescriptive grammatical rules in the 18th century.

I offer two observations. Firstly, I have no idea how much that would annoy any individual who had made a declaration on preferred personal pronouns and then had "they/them/their" used at them blindly. Secondly, I suspect a gender-blind approach to grammar in future is a far healthier long-term solution than gender inclusivity.

Any and all comment would be very welcome, this is not a field in which I feel myself informed.
Nullius in verba ... ☎||||||||||| ... To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.
When flower power came along I stood for Human Rights, marched around for peace and freedom, had some nooky every night - we took it serious.
Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game! ... My other OS is Slackware.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by LarsMac »

It's a puzzlement. That's for sure.
One thought, if Bob was a "he" in 1990s, but became a her named Wendy in 2010, then when referring to the pre-2010 Bob, I would expect retain the "He" in any anecdotal references, but in referring to the post 2010 Wendy, it would obviously be wise to use the "Her" and "She" pronouns.

It can't be THAT complicated, can it?
Well, we are human, and overcomplicating is what we do. Right?

A cousin of mine is rather fluid in the gender thing, as is her/his marriage mate, who was a he, but became a her, after they has a baby. Now, her he/she also had a previous son by another she. That lad has had to deal with all of this first hand. The child they had together is now in her early 20s, and is fully committed to being a she, and her kids are growing up trying to figure out which grandparent is which. She says that the hardest part is to sort out the pronoun salad between school and home.
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Re: Fixing what the grammar books got wrong

Post by Betty Boop »

I reckon its the people going through it that make it complicated. They put pressure on us not being sure what to say and that is when you can guarantee you are going to insert foot in mouth.

Having spent time with a Georgina who was oringinally a George, who would then make a big fuss about other people calling them him when it's bloody obvious they are a she - its not bloody obvious actually, and impossible to even begin to guess over the telephone! It wasn't until I heard the fuss they themselves made that I put my foot in my mouth and called them a he. Spent the next hour apologising and dying of embarrassment at my crassness, but I swear to god if they hadn't made such a damn fuss in the first place it never would have been on my mind! From the first meeting I'd always just accepted them as Georgina and as a she, the hows, whens and what if's are nothing to do with me much along the same lines I might wish to be known as a mermaid, if that's my choice then so be it.

When I've since heard her rage about other people who have mis-gendered her I cringe, us mere mortals are accused of being uptight, anti gay, anti LGBT, anti free speech etc etc the list goes on and the mind boggles. I'm not any of those but I get nervous when you get told you should be saying this or that and then I just know I am going to be tripping over the very thing I'm told not say.

They, them, their is more preferable to me, then I can't mess up when I've been made to feel nervous about saying the wrong thing, and when they change their mind as to what they actually want to be, none of it matters. I like people, I don't much care what gender they are. The trouble is I don't think a lot of the transgender individuals will be happy with it. But that's just my conclusion from knowing one person who is very prickly about it all.
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