Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Proper English Grammar & Spelling Are Not ‘Elitist’ | National Review

Driving the pedant crazy

The other day I mentioned a New York Times article by Farhad Manjoo arguing that folks ought to lay off worrying about correct grammar and spelling ("So Trump Makes Spelling Errors. In the Twitter Age Whoo Doesn't?" ($)(Dropbox).
I think I said something like this was good for a "recovering pedant" like me.
Now Philip H. Devoe, in "Proper English Grammar and Spelling Are Not ‘Elitist’" challenges the Times op-ed.
I must say on balance I'm more on the side of the latter than the former as I'm not fully "recovered"!
One thing in the quote below: "the problem of Mandarin". That's wrong. The opposite is the case. Mandarin is the language that is now spoken all over China vs the plethora of dialects that existed before. "Mandarin" is said several ways in Mandarin, most commonly Putonghua, Guoyu or Hanyu which back-translate to "common language", "national language" or "country language". So all about being national, not dialect. I can go anywhere in China and speak Mandarin: increasingly even Hong Kong. And China most certainly teaches grammar and "spelling" (how to write characters, that is). So I'm not sure why he says "the problem with Mandarin".
Anyway, article for your interest.

Ultimately, the solution to the problem of poor grammar isn't abolishing objective standards. It's restoring traditional grammar classes to schools and ensuring everyone has the ability to speak the language the correct way. This protects against the problem of Mandarin — adjacent regional dialects becoming different languages entirely...