Fifteen Things About Grammar
- Virtually every written human language has developed rules for its use.
- Way back in ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle were interested in language and can be blamed for helping form the foundations of the parts of speech.
- Latin became the language of Western Europe during the Roman Empire, and later it became the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.
- The word grammar comes from the Greek word gramma which means “writing” or “letter.” This root is also found in other English words like autograph, paragraph, telegram, monogram, etc.
- Grammar school got its name because it was the basic school where students learned to read and write.
- In the Middle Ages, the language of the Church and official government documents was Latin. English was the language of the lower class and is a hodgepodge of Latin, Greek, German, French, and other languages.
- On the island of Great Britain alone, there were between thirty and fifty distinct dialects of English. People who spoke one dialect couldn’t understand the others.
- In the 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer began writing in English. However, it was not standardized. There was no great need for it to be standardized, since most of the population was illiterate.
- In the fifteenth century the printing press made the language of the London middle and upper classes the standard for English. Those who disseminated information wanted it to be understood by as many readers as possible.
- The first printing press in England began operation in 1485. The first book printed was Sir Thomas Malory’s collection of King Arthur stories known as La Morte D’Arthur.
- By the 1700s, writers were compiling dictionaries and grammar books as English literacy grew.
- A standard written English evolved. “Correct” English was often that spoken by the more educated. However, since the educated class included clergy and teachers, the standard spread; most people wanted to do business and communicate with one another, so standard grammar and spelling was necessary.
- The standards were developed for effective communication, not to impress others. Dialects and distinctive pronunciations are OK in informal spoken language. However, written language should adhere to standards for better communication.
- English is very tolerant of accepting new words and adds thousands of new words each year. This makes English the richest language for words and shades of meaning. It also makes the language difficult for foreign learners.
- Time Magazine has predicted that the word whom will be gone by the end of the 21st century. ( I hear you all cheering!)
Some Quotes About Grammar
Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense but the past perfect! – Attributed to both Owens Lee Pomeroy (1929–2008) and Robert Orben (b.1927)
Practice safe text — use commas, and never miss a period. – Internet meme
There are grammatical errors even in his silence. – Stanisław J. Lec, Unkempt Thoughts, translated from Polish by Jacek Gałązka, 1962
If the English language had been properly organised by a businessman or Member of Parliament, then there would be a word which meant both “he” and “she”, and I could write, “If John or Mary comes heesh will want to play tennis”, which would save a lot of trouble. – A.A. Milne
I always put the apostrophe in “ain’t” to make certain I’m using proper improper English. – Author unknown
Every time you make a typo, the errorists win. – Author unknown
When money talks, no one checks the grammar. – Author unknown
No one can write perfect English and keep it up through a stretch of ten chapters. It has never been done. – Mark Twain
The serial comma is sexy, smart, and useful. – Author unknown
You call them swear words, I call them sentence enchanters.- Author unknown
Some Grammar Funnies