Thursday, May 09, 2013

Vent: Gwynne's over inflated notions on the importance of good grammer

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" - Wittgenstein

 In a recent interview on Radio 4 the famed grammarian, Mr Gwynne, responded to the question "Why is good grammer essential?", by stating that since we think with words so it must be that without words we cannot have thoughts except at the most basic, elementary level; the greater your vocabulary, the greater will be your ability to think. Gwynne goes on to say that because grammer is how you use words, if you use words in the wrong way it means you're going to think in the wrong way, which leads to wrong decisions and less happiness. So, he concludes, good grammer leads to happiness. When asked for an example, he says "I don't think that's very easy to do".

I think there is something fundamentally misplaced and wrong-headed with the idea of viewing people with poor grammer as poor thinkers. If I look at a painting or experience a piece of music or other artwork that resonates deeply within me, striking a chord with my soul or making me see the world in a different light, I can never capture how I feel about it words. I can try but I'll never really get to the essence of it. On another strand if I say "I didn't not do it, bruv", I know exactly what I mean and so, most likely, does the person being spoken to, even if they despise the sentence.

I'll stop now. Vent over. Ah, I'll sleep well tonight.

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