Is grammar more important than content?

Interesting point raised in this article this morning:


It’s not made in the article though, but rather in the comments. Commenters 5onthe5 and ID3721033 both make the point that language is about communicating effectively and not necessarily precisely. Leaving aside the actual contents of the letter, Gwynne is correct that the letter is prehaps grammatically incorrect, embarssingly so for a letter written by a bunch of academics. However, although it was a tad clumsy in areas, I could understand it. Maybe this is a poor reflection of what I spend my time reading, I’m not sure, but I must confess that with a language as broad and as complicated as English can be, I think I’d far rather people were able to get their point across coherantly, than worrying whether they’d used an idiom in the correct way or not.

It does make me wonder, like 5onthe5, whether focusing too much on grammar in the new curriculum would shut out a lot of would-be writers at a young age. I’m not an expert, but I know if I were studying the finer points of idioms, metaphors, similies and various clauses in school I’m not sure I’d have quite such the fondness for language that I do. That’s not to say grammar isn’t important, of course it is, but sometimes the bigger picture really does seem to get missed and for me, the bigger picture is learning to enjoy reading or writing at all. You can focus on the finer points later; put them into context, use grammar as a way to encourage and enjoy looking at writing, rather than as a hurdle that must be jumped before you can start. I’m sorry, but I’m willing to bet that very few love reading and writing because of the opportunities they afford to study a language’s mechanics, rather than because of the information and stories they open up.

So yes, an interesting article I thought. Not because of the academics, but rather because it gave me another chance to ponder exactly what the point of language is anyway. Even if you disagree with me, it’s certainly worth a peek.


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