In Laura Micciche’s piece, “Making a Case for Rhetorical Grammar” she makes a crucial distinction between grammar as formal, “school grammar” and grammar as “rhetorical grammar”. School grammar is unpopular among students and teachers alike. It is something many of us dread because it is focused on errors and things we need to fix. It is often associated with poor writing and “low skills”. Micciche urges us to redefine our understanding of grammar as rhetorical grammar — a broader way of using words and punctuation to think and articulate ideas and relationships.
Micciche argues that rhetorical grammar should be seen as something that is linked to thinking and composing. She explains that, “writing involves cognitive skills at the level of idea development and at the sentence level.” There is meaning in every grammatical choice we make, from pronoun choice to comma usage. Building on this idea, Micciche also explains the connection between what we say and how we say it. This is something I have always been aware of as a writer, and something I think is extremely important. The same point can be made in hundreds of different ways, but sometimes what sets one argument apart from the rest is the way it is constructed on the sentence level.
Micciche also argues for the importance of rhetorical grammar analysis in classrooms because it can be applied to broader concepts, for example civic discourse. She uses an example of President Bush’s speech to the UN regarding the events of September 11th in which her students were able to analyze the rhetorical grammar used in the speech to reveal how grammar can create a specific meaning.
Overall, I really enjoyed Micciche’s piece. It made me think back to taking AP Language and Composition in high school, a class that I absolutely loved. We used to always analyze and dissect the rhetorical devices used in various essays, similar to the student excerpts Micciche includes in her essay. It’s been a long time since I analyzed an essay in this way, and I’m really glad to read a piece that brings this idea of rhetorical grammar back into the forefront of my mind.