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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
cowboypoet Grammar in Songs (117* d) RE: Grammar in Songs 06 Feb 01


"As artists we convey much more than perfect grammar can convey, using all the color, variety, flexibility, humor and inventiveness available to us in English. We to agree on the general rules, but the point is to be understood fully, not to be right."

I agree, and I'm pretty sure that's precisely what I've been saying. The fact that you put it into other words is one of the beauties of the language that's being lost -- as English becomes more "simple" the thesaurus shrinks. I'll go you one better. I'm not sure that the point is to be understood fully, and I'm guessing Bob Dylan and Ezra Pound weren't either. Sometimes you can get the point across without saying anything like what you mean. I'll bet you, however, that if Dylan or Pound wanted to construct a perfect sentence conveying a specific thought they'd know how to do it. (Remember, we're not talking here about people like Robert Johnson, who created powerful lyrics without knowing the rules. I sometimes wonder if folks like that aren't greater geniuses than Dylan and Pound, but that's probably a topic for another discussion.)

I too dislike revisionist grammar, though I fear I must disagree with you about the new sensitivity. I'd be happy to see racial and sexist pejoratives disappear completely, but I can't bring myself to use bad grammar because somebody thinks it politically correct. I don't disrespect women when I say "One should speak as he chooses" -- I'm merely following the rules I was taught (mostly by women, I might add).

BTW, I don't care very much about whether other people know I'm "right" (I prefer "correct") as long as *I* know. And I don't correct other people's grammar, unless they ask for it. I merely deplore the fact that those who know better often don't do better, not out of any artistic urge or aim but because they're lazy. Of course there's not much I can do about it beyond my own limited sphere, but I can be disappointed that it's raining without thinking I can make the sun shine.


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