Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
My words are:
cahoots ~ fox ~ recoup ~ stickler ~ wistful
It was submitted by: https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog
I used to be a big stickler for using proper grammar for even the most casual communication. But then I grew the fuck up a little.
Ok let me say I don't ever think it's a problem if in your personal life you choose to use proper grammar all the time. Most of the time I still do. What changed for me and what I'm really talking about is dismissing and/judging other people for not doing so. A preference is one thing; mocking others over a preference is quite different. I want to talk about both these issues--grammar and preference. And I hope the time you spend reading this is more agreement than eyerolls, but we'll see. I mean it's about to get real geeky in here...
I've been rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation lately (see... Geeky). And besides me developing a weird infatuation for Beverly Crusher, the fox of the future, it's been a fun way to think about people and humanity and social issues. Bodily autonomy, what makes a human different from anyone else, what might society look like without classes... And it is very much a intergalactic world without slang. Beverly do be talking all posh. Oh there's an alien race that communicates using an old epic poem about a battle the entire planet remains wistful about, but that's more or less about not treating someone less than you just because the two of you don't speak the same language at all which is a little different than bending and eroding rules to carve out a spot for yourself in a world where the dominant people carved and eroded societies and their languages in the name of imperialism. (Don't get me wrong, a whole lot of us need that lesson about different langues, too, but I still think that's different than slang and code switching.) It's interesting that on a show with unlimited races of peoples/aliens there is never an advanced culture that has developed localized slang in generations. To the people who created this show, in this world access to standards of grammar and syntax in the English language are equitable. Class is no longer an issue in Star Trek. Those issues have been resolved. And in that way, these creators decided slang would be eliminated. Everyone would have equal access to the same education and the same ability to grasp the written word, and humans, at least, would be more homogeneous when it comes to language as an aspect of culture. I do think judging someone for poor grammar at least in the U.S. is classist and ableist or can be as is the seeming belief of Star Trek's creative team. Our schools' funding is dependent on local taxes. It creates wide gaps in funding depending on the values of property in between the imaginary lines that create a school district, and unfortunately the powers that be have a way of keeping poor folks especially poor folks of color out of schools where a lot of higher class groups send their kids. Teachers already spend out of their own pockets even in some of the more funded districts with no way to recoup their money. So yeah in that way I think Star Trek is right about things. Maybe equal access and elimination of classes does change the evolution of language.
But that doesn't take into account how much fun it is to say fuck the rules every now and then.
Like that. And like that again. I'm not supposed to, according to the rules, use just one sentence in a paragraph. I'm not supposed to start a sentence with a conjuction unless it is following a sentence and makes a complete sentence. And then I followed it with two dependent clauses that should never stand alone the way I left them. We've become a society that communicates almost solely online at times, and because of that, we have learned to write/type with affectations and put fun into it. Words are written in distinct ways that change the tone and connotation of what's being said without it having to be heard. Slang words spread far more quickly beyond the small groups where they begin. Language evolves as we do with the times, with our needs, and because some of us want to have fun with our words when and where we can. That's part of the beauty of language. And that evolution does not mean you can't prefer to use grammar by the rules entirely nor does it mean there aren't spaces where a standard might be necessary so we all understand what is being said and the importance of the meaning behind it. But a preference one way or another outside of those limited situations should never come with judgement about the other person's worth or ability. It shouldn't mean we have to discount what someone has said because they don't follow arbitrary, prescriptive rules. If you can understand what's being said *if* it is being said to your that's all that matters and even if you can't understand, a polite request for explanation is fine. And if it isn't said to you, then it's none of your business anyway.
What I'm trying to convey here is that even if we somehow manage to escape the inherent faults of capitalism and have a classless society where everyone's needs are met, we won't be without slang, without linguistic cultural experiences, without blendings of languages and meaning, without new rules we can joyously break. I think slang is inherently part of existence and has as much value as precise academic speech and purists' opinions. The writers of Star Trek even understood that when writing Picard's detective noir episodes. The slang was part of the experience. As it should be.
So now that we all know we don't have to be in cahoots with the rule makers and justify mockery because of arbitrary standards, I hope you appreciate the more descriptive language around you.
Oh and live long and prosper. 🖖🏻