Monday, June 05, 2006

Literary Refresher: Grammar

I decided to take a refresher course on grammar. The last time I did something like this was in 1998. I found it most useful then and I found it still useful. I have to admit that sometimes I wonder if I'm using a comma or semi-colon properly. Even though I have grammar books at home, information seems to stick best when I'm in a classroom.

I gave up my Sunday morning to take "Grammar, from A-Z" taught by longtime news and copy editor Gary North. I knew I had graduated to being a full-time dork when I was fully engaged in a discussion on the proper usage of "that vs. which" and "who vs. whom."

I was completely fascinated with various Style Guides that dictated whether a period went within or outside of quotes. I always assumed that I was an old "Elements of Style" writer, basing my punctuation on the classic by Strunk and White. Indeed, I'd probably been more of an "Associated Press Style Guide" writer, influenced by material I'd read in newspapers and magazines.

What I appreciated about the class was the reinforcement that the English language is forever evolving, adding new words all the time (sushi, en masse) and witnessing new rules evolve (as in ending a sentence with a prepostion, like "Where you at?")

As we take from computer lingo or pop music, an eloquent sentence in the near future might look like this: "I saw U at my frend's crib...Y U play me like dat?:(" The language that we are using now, might become as arcane as the language of Shakespeare's time.

3 comments:

Cheryl said...

My cousin just sent me the following message on MySpace. He is the wave of the future: " YO YO CUZ, What it be like? ;) Thanx and congrats to you for your first publication!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pretty exciting stuff!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to buy one, where do i go? You gonna put your "X" on it for me?"

Jason Phoon said...

wow, that's pretty powderful englandish

Angelo said...

hi noel. here in the phils., the english language is "evolving" because of mobile phone text messaging. it's really annoying sometimes because majority of the people do it.

see exhibit a:

"gud am, noel. hw r u? wru? hpe ol s wel. gr8 2 hv met u lst nyt. hav a gr8 day. cya l8r. lts hv a muvi d8 f ur fri. tc."

i'm serious.