Thursday, January 31, 2013

Life After Grammar

I think it was fate that brought Shawshank Redemption to me last weekend as I was flipping through channels. The plight of Morgan Freeman’s character really helped me cope with something that happened in a meeting today. 
Today was our quarterly Student Success Meeting, a meeting dedicated to discussing strategies that will help our students be more successful. (See! We care!)

The conversation eventually turned to the students’ writing skills—or, more specifically, lack thereof. Somebody in the meeting ventured that this generation’s tenuous grasp of grammar will lead to grammar eventually becoming as relevant as the celebrities who appear on Dancing with the Stars.

All of a sudden, everyone looked at me with pity in their eyes. What’s Jenny going to do? She’s going to FREAK OUT! Without grammar, her life is going to be meaningless.

Bu then I thought about Morgan Freeman’s character. He thought he wouldn’t be able to make it outside of Shawshank. And, sure, he struggled for a bit there, but in the end (SPOILER ALERT!!!), he got it together and lived happily ever after with Tim in Zihuatanejo. 

So I guess if one day our writing is no longer bound by the shackles of grammar rules, I’ll be fine. I’ll figure out something else to do with my life. Maybe I’ll learn those “Gangnam Style” dance moves. I’ve never made lasagna. I’ve always wanted to visit the world’s tallest thermometer. Maybe I’ll become an actress just in time to get cast in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. 

But do you think I’ll have to get my SAG card soon? Is grammar on its way to becoming obsolete?


E.J. Wesley said...

As a writer, I hope to God not. And if it does go, please don't let it happen via prison shower scene. *shudders*

But it would be pretty cool to have Morgan Freeman narrate its demise: *in Morgan Freeman voice* "Grammar has eroded over the years, but there's no shame in that. None at all. Rocks must give way to wind, beaches must give way to water--seems time withers most things that a'way." :-D

Shelly said...

It won't be obsolete as long as I am alive.

Mark said...

I'm with E.J on how it would be awesome if Morgan Freeman narrated it's demise but I really hope that the end of grammar never comes. Or at least, not while I'm alive.

DiscConnected said...


You're too young to think that the world is going to hell in a handbasket-that's the job of people my age!

I have found it interesting how many grammatical "errors" from the time of my school daze now seem to be accepted usage.

That will undoubtedly continue.

A little more alarming is that from what elementary school teacher friends tell me, grammar and spelling is not emphasized so much since computers check it for you.

While that's nice, many of these "shortcuts" rob young people of being taught to reason, and if computers are so wonderful, why do I get a hundred e-mails daily with errors in them?

Maybe I should get a SAG card...they'll need someone for "Homer Simpson-The Later Years"


the late phoenix said...

*rips up Dancing with the Stars invite*

*takes own temperature with world's longest thermometer* *is healthy*

*rips up ticket to Mexico*

*learns Jenny is an actress now, joins her at an acting class in Mexico*

*tapes back up ticket to Mexico torn in two*

Powdered Toast Man said...

Grammar and turn signals in cars. No one knows how to use them correctly.

Jessica Bell said...

I don't think so, but I do think we need to figure out how to teach it differently. Ss get bored too quickly nowadays. I work in English Language Teaching (as a second language), and even HERE we are modifying our approach to teaching it in course books. We teach LESS of it. One grammar point at a time, but don't focus too many activities on it, but rather give ss the opportunity to see it in context over and over and over without drawing too much attention to it. Basically we take the grammar, stick it into a real-life situational task, and basically encourage its use so ss hardly realise they're learning it.

ordinary malaysian said...

As certain as the dodo, grammar is speeding towards extinction. Just like groovy went out of the groves eaons ago ya? And ROFL is no more funny nor rolling. So yes, come to Malaysia.

Naina Gupta said...

That first comment has got Morgan Freeman's voice stuck in my head.

I really hope that grammar doesn't become obsolete. People also need to learn grammar so they don't stick with whatever the first suggestion that word processing programs give to them when they make mistakes when writing.

Jono said...

Not as long as I'm around to lust after
your grammar skills!

Genskie said...

Well you could fly to Asia where grammar is a must!...
Where everyone is paying a lot just to learn the correct punctuation marks and verb tenses.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Oh, heck no! If they take away grammar, my ears and eyes will bleed.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Christie Wright Wild said...

I think grammar has been steadily waning from everyday speech, but my 3rd grader just told me that he was learning all about possessive plurals. So yes, it is still being taught in schools. And I still correct people's speech every chance I get. I don't think the publishing world will ever let grammar go. Grammar is like the law of gravity applied to language. You might not have to make that lasagna after all.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Fifty Shades of Grey?!
I don't think grammar will become obsolete. It's still vital to the English language, but I don't base entire lessons to the learning of grammar rules. It can be learned in more fun ways!
Teaching English with Mr. Duncan

Maria said...

I agree with the reader who thought that grammar needs to be taught differently. My partner has been a high school music teacher (and now music tech teacher as well) for over two decades. She argues with her cohorts constantly in ridiculous meetings that we have to teach kids differently. I tend to agree with my head but disagree with my heart. I was one of those kids who loved sitting and taking notes in 90 minute classes.

And our 13 year old daughter had to diagram a sentence properly to pass an entrance exam on a high school entrance exam, so perhaps things aren't dire yet.

But, helps to know "Gangham Style" dance moves when you want to threaten your child with embarrassment in front of her friends. And lasagna is my "go to" dinner dish. Easy. One pan. Crusty french bread and a salad and you are done. Unless you have a "go to" dessert like bourbon brownies....

Theresa Milstein said...

My 14-year-old son watched Shawshank Redemption a few weeks ago, and now it's his his favorite movie.

I have an excellent lasagna recipe if you need one.

Practice saying, "Oh my!" in the mirror, so you're reading when those auditions begin.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on the context. Sure, skip the semicolons on your facebook comments, but in a crazy competitive job market, I think the applicant with the proper commas in their cover letter is going to beat out the applicant who "really wants to work for you're company alot."

But you should still learn to dance to Gangnam Style!

anthony stemke said...

Get ready for your closeup, grammar is devolving. If people would read more often it wouldn't be as bad. Teachers (yourself excepted) should be more interesting.
Morgan Freedman, is he the guy talking about Visa card? cm

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

I agree with beinglauraboffa about job applicants; those who can put together an intelligent sentence will win out over those who cannot. Without decent grammar, how will we communicate effectively? I saw a post yesterday that still has me befuddled (paraphrased): "The music was so terrible, you'd have to be deft to like it." Deft? Daft? Deaf?