Re: grammar - knowing the rules to break them

Subject: Re: grammar - knowing the rules to break them
From: Wolf Lahti <wduby -at- TECHCENTER -dot- PACCAR -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995 07:54:46 -0800

Margie said:

>I took a grammar course this summer in which I learned that
>many of the rules of English originated in the Latin
>grammatical system..

A distinction needs to be made between grammatical rules and stylistic
conventions. The Latinate conventions were largely imposed by one fellow who
wrote a book of grammar in the 1700s. (Sadly, I do not have the name of the
reference to hand.) Because no one one else had bothered to put forth an
opinion on how English should be structured, his was followed, more or less
by default, his stylistic recommendations including not ending a sentence
with a preposition and a staunch denial of the right of anyone to boldly
split an infinitive. (Hey, you can't do it in Latin, therefore you shouldn't
be able to do it in English--right?)

This, of course, begs the question as to what is stylistic convention and
what is a grammtical rule. The distinction seems fairly clear to me, though
it's not one I'm should I could articulate

One of my favorite rules I've never seen written: the tendency to add voice
to a trailing consonant when verbing a noun. For example, 'mouth'(mowth) to
'mouthe'(mowdh) and 'house'(hows) to 'house'(howz). There are probably more
exceptions to this than there are examples, because English is such a
eclectic anthology of linguistic elemenopi; still, I enjoy pointing it out.

"I hate quotations."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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