Grammar’s Dirty Little Secret

March 30, 2011

Bonnie, my longtime friend and honorary Florida Press Club member — you might remember her as my arm candy at the 2010 banquet — sends along this Wall Street Journal blog post, which pretty much tells grammar freaks to chill out. (You trying to tell me something, Bonnie?)

Listen, we’re going to let you guys in on a little secret: You can really put your commas anywhere. Grammar’s all a big sham.

Now, being a copy editor, I can’t completely agree with the premise. You should use proper grammar. People will judge you if your writing is full of errors and doubt your expertise.

While thinking less of someone for using a serial comma, for example, is completely silly, I have to know the correct rules. It’s my job. However, I’m not going to freak out if I read something with a comma before “and” unless someone’s asked me to edit it. Even then, I won’t freak out. I’ll just remove the comma.

Still, rules change. As I mentioned in the previous post’s comments, cellphone and smartphone are written as one word again per AP Style. The stylebook may change a word or go back to an original use. You have to pay attention.

Until the Wall Street Journal’s prediction comes right —

English will eventually evolve into a language without vowels, as they will be entirely replaced by the letter h: Sthrt prhcthchng yhhr vhwhl rhmhvhl skhlls nhw hnd hmprhss yhhr frhhnds.

I will do the best I can to bring grammar back into vogue.

And if all our vowels disappear? I will be one step closer to reading Hebrew.

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