On: Grammar

“Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned”.

Joan Didion, in my opinion, resonated incredibly clearly with my thoughts and feelings as a writer. Ms. Didion captured the very essence of what I believe I personally associate with grammar, in that I never really did take a grammar specific course growing up. Sure I can “hear” proper grammar..but can I put that down on paper too? And I could not have asked for more in terms of preparing myself for college writing from my previous schooling, and I attribute every last bit of success I’ve had in building my skills and talents as a writer to the outstanding teachers who’ve been there with me throughout the course of my life. I would not be anywhere in my writing ability without their guidance and their constant support to persevere. But grammar seems to be the place where my education in writing and writing technique has taken so many twists and turns, I never really have been given concrete instruction on grammar, ever. And I speculate this was the case for me because many of my teachers growing up focused more on what I was saying as a writer, and less on if I was saying it in some technically correct way. Truth be told, I appreciate this outlook profoundly.

And like Ms. Didion pointed out so clearly: “All I know about grammar is its infinite power”, and that’s exactly how I feel today in my relationship with grammar.

But I believe that Mr. Orwell offered up plenty of insight on how I see political opinion being shaped and intertwined in writing today.

We are all inherently bias in a sense, unable to perfectly escape the thoughts and the opinions we hold from the things that we write. This is true in almost everything I write, and all of the interactions I have had with my fellow writers. Whether it be writing letters to local constituents from Capitol Hill this past summer for my internship, or simply trying to state facts regarding American history in my recent Political Science coursework, I thoroughly see and absolutely agree that it is virtually impossible for us to completely remove our own voices from the pieces that we construct.

Henry Khederian

Student, Resident Advisor, Mentor. University of Michigan, Class of 2017.

2 thoughts to “On: Grammar”

  1. I feel the same way with grammar and I think that quote offers a brilliant explanation on how most people feel. Grammar often feels like a foreign language and when I think back to my writing career, I have a difficult time pin pointing when grammar made sense to me. In reality it is still a challenge. I agree that it is impossible to remove your own voice from what you write. The basis of your beliefs are bound to shine through in almost all types of writing, but I don’t necessarily view that as a bad thing. Isn’t that why we write?

  2. I see your point regarding grammar but I feel as though Joan Didion wasn’t making the point that she felt incompetent or inadequate when it comes to grammar but rather that it does not inspire her and it is not the reason she writes. She acknowledges its power and importance in society but I think if she were to have it her way, grammar would be irrelevant. Just my opinion.

Leave a Reply