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Re: Decline and Fall of the English Language

by Red H. MacGuffin

Like everything else, grammar is something that needs to be taken with a bit of perspective. There is no absolute, and the quality of a subjects grammar is often the product of a balance between convenience, quality of communication, artistry, and sometimes ignorance.

It seems that I see "your" or "its" used improperly more often than I see them used correctly. It's an annoyance, and sometimes it makes it difficult not to dismiss the letter or article immediately as the product of an ignorant author. However, it still depends on where you draw the line. "atrocity" is a word I reserve for the Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition, not a misplaced apostrophe. Such triviality barely catches the average reader's eye, especially in an online forum. It's worth noting that if letters containing any spelling or grammatical errors were not accepted for the letters column, there would be no letters column.

Grammatical errors are something everyone has to live with. It's not a sign of the collapse of civilization, or that the writer is a drooling idiot. Not too long ago I saw a Time magazine where one of the teasers on the cover used "Who" in the place of "Whom." The other day I was unfortunate enough to pick up and thumb through a copy of "The Pilot's Wife" (a bestseller) I saw on a girlfriends coffee table and I was hard pressed to find a page that contained a single grammatically correct sentence. "Ulysses" by James Joyce, arguably one of the greatest works of western literature, contains a run-on sentence that goes on for twenty-seven pages. My point is that life is not a high school English class.

When "pronunciation" is spelled with an extra o somebody may find it annoying. It's more important to ask if the misspelling is an impediment to communication. It certainly is not. In the end that's what matters. Nit picking over something so trivial and easily overlooked becomes a much greater impediment to communication than the misspelling itself. Filtering through the site and compiling a list of such trivialities is just plain anal.

The helpful suggestion that people in general and RPGamer in particular clean up their grammar is probably appreciated. The patronizing most likely undid any good, though.

Original Editorial: The Decline and Fall of the English Language

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