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Home / News / Grammar Rules Are An Invention. It’s Time To Stop Taking Them So Seriously. | Think | NBC News

Grammar Rules Are An Invention. It’s Time To Stop Taking Them So Seriously. | Think | NBC News



Once upon a time, there were no grammar rules and writers were free to experiment with punctuation as they saw fit. It wasn’t until the late 1700s that grammar books became popular (and lucrative), and the rest is history. Cecelia Watson, author of “Semicolon: The Past, Present and Future of a Misunderstood Mark,” joined THINK to discuss.
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Grammar Rules Are An Invention. It’s Time To Stop Taking Them So Seriously. | Think | NBC News

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50 comments

  1. O-o-o-o-o-h! Grammar = Industry = Capitalism = Evil. So, yeah…everybody throw away those evil grammar books, those symbols of Capitalism, and speak and write in his own invented language. This will of course improve communication and understanding! Yes, I see; it's been all these grammar rules imposed upon us by white men that have hindered our intellectual freedom and growth. With this one easy tip, you too can speak and be understood like her does. …Wait, or would that be: like she do? Oh! never mind – it dont mater enee moor, ah! dont that feel gooder?

  2. Shakespeare was an exception. If you read posts you understand people are unable to spell or use grammar which makes them incoherent quite often.

  3. She just means that grammar rules prevent language from further development and optimization. Rules often keep and conserve too many irrational and archaic grammatical garbage, which is, in many cases, simply a decor intended for the joy of the bunch of conservative people. Some languages (usually synthetic languages) often became so polluted that even native speakers can't use language correctly because it is hard to learn and illogical.

  4. What a LOAD OF BS! Grammar and punctuation add meaning and context to "a word salad".
    The speaker herself used grammar and punctuation in this article. You will NOT get that job if your grammar is poor!
    Texting to me without punctuation will result in lots of queries – OR being ignore as UNINTELLIGIBLE.
    The "rules" were formulated as a means to standardize written text, NOT to reinvent the English language.

  5. "Foul play not suspected in Epstein's death, but more info needed after autopsy"

    A headline…
    Lots of people suspect FOUL play…
    Can you be a little more specific?

  6. i wish they would standardize everything , even accents. i have a hard time leaving Brooklyn tv and movies speak weird english to me. bostonians sound tongue tied

  7. She seems very smart! I also love her hair.

  8. It's a language far older lady …than english called CELTIC …it is way more elaborate and as any oaf ..they couldn't figure out what they tried to steal …i have the Excalibur …i am using it to "time dive"… I'll be back …keep going …look up EL also an old word for God …where idiots wrote fake rules was after they tried to hide woman's history ….the women that are royalty had to hide the secrets in …stone ….this is tge story you never learned of HE -RU …the falcon hawk god of pharaoh land ….i raised them with tge hieroglyphs …the women saved tbeir history their. …royalty as pharaohs children only learned hieroglyphs not half sons. ……the women told the son HE -RU ….this was one aspect of Excalibur my language my people should talk now ….CELTIC ….all you highlanders all irish Welsh every druid son and daughter ….come see me now …the sword is already drawn …it is a living language to be spoken ….later it can be written …..DEUS

  9. Some people should not be allowed onto the internet… or anywhere they can influence others.

  10. Grammar is hard. I just want to be stupid.

  11. My favorite things are eating people and not using commas.

  12. Lets all speak ebonics, ize dont need edumication!!!!

  13. Cecelia Watson is an invention (of her parents). It's Time To Stop Taking HER So Seriously.

  14. Cecelia Watson is an invention (of her parents). It's Time To Stop Taking HER So Seriously.

  15. Cecelia Watson is an invention (of her parents). It's Time To Stop Taking HER So Seriously.

  16. Cecelia Watson is an invention (of her parents). It's Time To Stop Taking HER So Seriously.

  17. Actually Grammar rules are used against minorities in the USA for the last 100 years or more . White power groups have always taught that only the White-man has a perfect grasp of the Germanic languages (English is Germanic ) . First thing these groups teach even in prison to their members is to have perfect English grammar.
    That is how they impose their superiority over others , nobody having a perfect grasp of these Grammar rules is worth listening to, youtube/ Google is especially bias about this , cut and paste your own sentence, word spelling correction and see for yourself , the Games they play .

    like Albert Eisenstein who failed Grammar miserably, now if one does not capitalize or use a comma they are marginalized or completely thrown to the curb .
    ex : Ax mi another question i dont know ? etc, etc

  18. Oh, no ! She had to play the race card, didn't she?
    Having a good grasp of grammar rules means that one is well educated.

  19. Don't use the news to promote the further degeneration of a society that already struggles to communicate. Using grammar accurately, is as necessary to the successful communication of ideas, as the nearly-lost art of defining words accurately. America needs to PICK UP a DICTIONARY; not DROP what's left of its GRAMMAR.

    It's as if that faux-hippy is TRYING to intellectually cripple America.

    Regarding "Black English": A collection of legitimate dialects would fit that description, none of which needs her condescending approval. What each of them does need – and what each of them includes – is grammatical organizing.

    Being a sloppy, disorganized writer won't make anyone Shakespeare.

    If she's found other books too difficult to follow, she should try reading "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation!"

    Failing to agree upon the meaning of punctuation, and grammatical structuring, is as crippling as failing to agree upon the meaning of WORDS. How does one COMMUNICATE in her undefined world? Tone of voice? Growling, whining and barking?

    Jesus effing Christ, lady! Think!

  20. Then why does she follow so many rules? Oh, otherwise no one would understand her. She contradicts herself by her own actions.

  21. Oh you're so right sister! Imagine what a difference it would make in the world if we just up and trashed anything and everything that's ever come from those vile white men…
    No seriously, think about it – I insist..

  22. Cecelia Watson is an invention (of her parents). It's Time To Stop Taking HER So Seriously.

  23. <Big Sigh> "Grammar Rules." Good God. Certainly. Let's ditch them. It's 2019. Given all the problems we have today, God forbid we make serious use of any degree of communication normality to better understand each other. But let us not stop with Grammar. Let's also ditch dictionaries, and actual word meanings. It would make just as much sense.

  24. This is so true! don't get me wrong, we should have grammar and mechanic to help us understand each other better, but when too much grammar obscure the message in the sentence, it's time to dial the grammar check back. I'm certainly tired of grammar Nazi's scrutinizing everyone comments all the time; please add something more substantial to the conversation other than "it's not 'me and him' but 'He and I'".

  25. NBC News, you are pathetic.

  26. Woman rights are a "invention" so its time to stop taking them so seriously..
    Right?

    Rules keep society from chaos.

  27. NBC has been promoting illiteracy for years.

  28. Do not make assumptions.  The study of grammar goes back to the ancient Greeks, at least.  Grammar is an integral part of language,  the grammar books are descriptions of useage which is already in the languag. and although there is some change over time, A grammar text book describes useage at that time.  The first published English grammar book was when Shakespeare 22.  To say he had not studied it does not mean there was a commonly understood set of rules and makes about as much sense as to say that no one could speak until there were dictionaries. You will find the same basic grammatical structure used by Marlow or Bacon as with Shakespeare.  I can string together German words. but only the most basic meanings will have some meaning without a set of rules about how they relate to each other, whether just common knowledge or in print.  As for punctuation, that is relatively new and is related strictly to the written form of the langauge. If you go back to ancient Greek, earliest Greek was written boustrephedon (oxen plowiing a field.  Not one consistent direction but left to right folled by right to left, then left to right again.  For centuries there was no space between letters, which is at the heart of some controversies over translation.  None of this affected verbal conversation but impacted only writing.

  29. i’m annoyed with the concept of this video, as well as the person telling it. she is so annoying to look at and listen to, It’s almost as bad as reading run on sentences without a comma

  30. New exactly where this was going ' proper grammar will now be racist ' DINT LERN'T NUFFIN NU.

  31. "White-guy English?" That's bigotry.

    No. Permission to be ignorant. (I know it's not a proper sentence.)

  32. grammar has a purpose, despite what one might think, other than to serve as a platform for criticism of others. it creates a standard for written communication that provides a basis for clarity and a consequent reduction in misunderstanding. of course, that doesn't preclude the possibility that grammar can be creative and viewed as some kind of art form, thus serving two masters. on one hand the photos of birds in an encyclopedia, and on the other like the photographic artwork of an adams or lebowitz.

  33. No more Grammer rules, No more English class, No more writing, No more papers due. Only math from now on!

  34. She has been drinking the Democrats pee for too long

  35. Language is an invention. It's time to stop speaking in one.

    Traffic laws are inventions. Time to stop obeying them.

    Babies are inventions. Time to stop reproducing.

  36. Writing is for communication. If by breaking a rule you can deliver your message effectively, without a misunderstanding arising, then break the rule. However, in many professions there is a "standard" that is expected. If one breaks the "standard" your impact and message are not well-received. Also, you say that those who wrote grammar books made a lot of money, so with your grammar book I assume you intend to do the same. So, I wish you well.

  37. Right, but how can we somehow blame whitey for thi–?

    2:33

    … Booyah!

  38. This is a dumb idea! Return to prehistoric times….we need to be articulate!

  39. ………and now we’re going backwards innit ? 👍😃

  40. We should all never learn a language and return to grunting?

  41. The problem is that some people have important messages that they need to get across. If what they write is unintelligible to someone half way across the country or to an immigrant from another country, then critical parts of the message can be lost. This can lead to planes crashing, the wrong kidney removed, bridges falling into rivers, and that kind of thing.
    If you never actually have anything important to communicate, then I guess the rules of language are probably not that important for you.

    I'm trying to imagine a repair manual for an airliner written not just for a few different languages, but for dozens of different dialects of English.

  42. I would agree, save for the fact that one of writing's chief purposes is to clarify thinking; and, should we abandon those marks which help punctuate our thought and its clarity, we then run the risk of splicing our perception and seeing fragmented thought as the new (ab)normal, if we haven't already.

  43. I love Grammar. And Grampar, too.

  44. Sorry lady,i prefer to hear or read proper English .It's just a bad habit of mine.

  45. I knew this was somehow connected to race, but I still clicked. …smh.

  46. Trump supporters never took them seriously in the first place

  47. well then people would just have run on sentences that would just go on forever like you know what im sayn!

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