Grammar Fascism

There are certain things I like about good grammar.
I wince at poorly placed apostrophes and would rather people used the appropriate spelling
But for me the sense and sound of a work are more important than the rules..

My supervisor disagrees.

She is firm that the infinitive should never be split and generally verbs formed of several words shouldn’t be either. She feels that ‘not only’ can only be followed by ‘but also’ (there should be no split between the but & the also; and no substitutes for the also, such as additionally, are acceptable). She utterly despises sentences ending in a preposition – which would be easier if whence didn’t sound such a tragic archaism. She believes that nor can only be used with neither.. and must never be used as a conjuction in its own right (e.g. does not x nor acts as y). In fact she even disapproves of contractions.

I just can’t bring myself to ditch my terrible colloquialisms entirely. I love to add a casual adverb into my verbal phrase, I enjoy the rhetoricising feel of nor and don’t feel the need to balance my clauses precisely. I find moving my prepositions sounds artificial and frankly I’m finding the whole process rather tedious.
I cannot ignore her completely especially where actually her thoughts about the grammar help make my writing smotther and thoughts clearer. But…

So what are your thoughts? Which grammar rules do you flout?


5 thoughts on “Grammar Fascism

  1. If we cannot play with language, if we cannot use and abuse it, then it is a dead language. Yes, knowing how to write well is important, and one should know the rules that one is breaking so that one can break them intelligently or cleverly. And I’m more than aware that I often break the more archaic rules without know that I’m doing so; thus, my words should be taken with a whole bole of Morton’s! But that’s my thinking. Also, I started two sentences with a preposition, possibly misused a semicolon and used several contractions!
    Also, how did you find my blog?

    • I completely agree that you have to play with language to help it eveolce but I think the question really is how much leeway should you have in academic writing in comparison to in fiction..?

      When you say find.. do you mean what search did I use or do you mean how do like the topics/writing?
      The answer to the first is simply that you came up on my reader under a mutual tag (probably Poly but I don’t remember); the answer to the second is pretty simple – I’ve read more than one post over the last month or so, so you must be doing something right 😉

      • Ah – clearly I was missing a bit of context, since I wasn’t really aware that the topic was academic writing. While I think that there is room for a little bit more creativity in academia than I usually see, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m a history major – notoriously the dryest of the dry writing academia has to offer. Well, thanks for reading! I haven’t quite figured out how to use wordpress to find other blogs, but I also haven’t had much time to devote to them, so I’m unsure what alchemy leads people to me. A mutual tag makes sense.

  2. i’ve grown a lot over the last few years to appreciate that grammar “rules” are attempts to encapsulate non-constant phenomena, not predictive and mechanistic models that prescribe how all words are to be used.

    words change meaning, structures get reformatted, etc. etc. nothing in language is truly constant and acting as if it is [which is what we’re all taught to do in school!] disacknowledges the rich history of languages and short-circuits a potentially rich future.

    i used to be a firm believe in rules, i am now a firm believe in conveying information. does the language get across its point? that’s what matters.

    and plus, splitting infinitives was never a no-no anyway!

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