Get Rid of Grammar?

So… I went on a minor grammar rant this morning on my Facebook page.  🙂

This led several teachers, writers, and other friends to “like” it and then lament the inevitable question we hear: “But why should we use proper grammar and spelling when people can understand what we’re saying either way?”

Interesting question. At first, as a writer, reader, and teacher, I generally feel the world must recognize standard rules of grammar and spelling in order to be taken seriously at work, school, and many other places.

But there is the fact of this, mentioned in the thread.

+ theirs teh fact dat u cn und3rstand wut im riting even wen its totuly rong.

So what difference does it make?

I think this goes back to something that many writers face every day: the importance of word choice.

There is a flow to sentence structure and word choice that means one sentence could be expressed many different ways, and each way will create a different reaction in readers.

Here are some examples:

“Please remember to pick up the milk on the way home,” she said before he had time to hang up.

“Are you going to actually remember the milk this time?” Her voice cracked through the receiver, and he nearly dropped his cell.

“Oh, please, just bring me some milk. That’s all I ask of you,” she begged, hoping he hadn’t hung up yet.

“Rmbr 2 get mlk,” she texted.

There is context in each of these sentences. In some, we’re in the woman’s point of view, while in at least one other, we’re in the man’s. One or more of these sentences suggests problems in the relationship between these people. The text message example, with its brevity, implies a lack of importance.

Though I’m a fan of grammar and spelling, I don’t actually mind “text speak” or “l337.” In my opinion, these have their places and connotations just as any other sentence structures or word choices do.

And yet, I don’t much care for grammatical errors that appear to be true errors instead of deliberate character choices. Even though I can understand what the writer meant, the mistakes distract and sometimes even annoy me. Why is this?

Again, what difference does it really make?


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