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3 Comments

  • I’m with you on this, Jonathon: I prefer to restrict grammar to its narrower sense(s) than to use it as a catch-all term for anything variable or regulable in usage. But I can see the use and appeal of having such a broad (and familiar) name. There was a related debate on my own blog some years ago, and one commenter suggested that my feelings about this were an example of ‘nerdview’, which was a fair point. Linguists’ use of grammar doesn’t seem nearly so widely known as the general use that covers style and spelling. And that’s OK – or it would be if some people weren’t using the word to belittle others’ usage. But a reminder now and then is worthwhile.

  • “Language is the ultimate democracy, and everyone gets a vote.”

    Spot on and totally fabulous – I think this may well turn out to be my quote of the year ….

  • Thanks, Stan. And the fact that linguists’ definition isn’t widely known causes a lot of problems. It was clear that a lot of people responding on Twitter to my blog post about teaching grammar were thinking more of mechanics and usage than parts of speech and sentence structure. If people aren’t clear on what grammar is, then discussions about whether or not it should be taught won’t get very far.

    Thanks, Kerry. 🙂