By John Crouch, Attorney at Law,
Crouch & Crouch, Arlington, Virginia; (703)
Brown Daily Herald , Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (U.S.)
Other Crouch Articles
Those who protest against the concept of grammatical correctness
are much like those who say our college, and the nation, should have no
hard and fast rules but instead should do everything on a case-by-case basis.
They are unwilling to consider that rules, even non-absolute, informal ones,
might actually make interaction and communication more rational and relaxed.
Relativist grammar begets sloppy thinking, which, once planted, springs
up everywhere. For example, Brown is the only place I've been where people
use the term "semiformal" to denote people wearing jackets and
ties, and call black ties "formal." They thereby rob the language,
and their minds, of any word which can communicate the distinction between
a tuxedo and actual formal wear (white ties and tails). Is it a coincidence
that Brown is also the only place where people believe there is no distinction
between speech and other actions (thus robbing the first amendment of all
The most tangible effect of sloppy writing is not that people won't be able
to decipher it, but that they will be so busy noticing its illiteracy that
they won't even try. The choppy, insincere elocutions of George Bush or
the Banner [a campus magazine] lead me to contemplate their mental states,
not their arguments.
Under grammatical correctness, you can say anything you want, but only in
such a way that people understand what you mean. This is desireable for
most people, though not for everyone.
Copyright John Crouch 1991
- John Crouch
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