Anne Curzan’s piece about the rules of grammar intertwined two worlds that I previously thought were separate – spoken language and writing. In the past, I have taken courses that aim to identify different types of speech among different types of people and how these styles of talking identify different types of class, race, and culture. Until I read this piece, I had never thought about this in terms of writing.
The point that stood out to me the most? People hold a certain form of language as the most appropriate and socially acceptable. But why? Curzan makes a point of discussing the difference between “shouldn’t” and “ain’t”. “Shouldn’t” is JUST as grammatical as “ain’t”, however the latter is perceived as lower class. This also leads me to ponder why written language and grammar morph more slowly than spoken words. Traditional grammar is, in some ways, hurting cultures and labeling them as less intelligent and incapable of being taken seriously.
BUT. People who comprehend language that doesn’t match the traditional writing standards as incompetent don’t realize that this is the language that is reaching the most people and having a huge impact on society. For example, Macklemore definitely doesn’t utilize grammar that society has deemed as correct, but his words and ideas are expressed in a way that many more people can relate to than a governmental article about why gay marriage is acceptable. Curzan’s strategies of tying together writing and spoken language, and the gap between the two, was captivating and definitely made me think about why grammar isn’t changing with spoken language.