"What's the point of grammar?" asked Achille Grand-Fernet. "You ought to know by now," replied Madame..
Taken from The Elegance of the Hedgehog written by Muriel Barbery.
In the book, this thought provoking conversation happens between the French teacher and student. It brings to light another act that we tend to follow blindly without giving it a second thought. Children often are told to check for grammar in what they write and are often criticised for not following the rules. However rarely do discussions around why it is important to follow grammatical rules happen.
Of course adherence to grammar helps spoken and written communication easier to understand. But there are instances where even if the sentence is grammatically wrong, it still manages to convey the intended meaning. For example, 'Simon slept late last night' vs 'Simon slept late yesterday night'. Going by what sounds better the former sentence is the right away to convey the intended meaning and turns out that it is grammatically correct too.
Emphasising the need for grammar when one learns the English language and the impact it has on children's attitude to writing
Every time a child comes forward to share their writing they come for encouragement and appreciation. As adults while we may appreciate the writing, the tendency to point out grammatical errors becomes unavoidable and rightly so. As one would contend, how else will children learn unless they are told what is right and wrong? True! From the child's perspective however, it is impossible for them to imagine the importance of knowing the difference between right and wrong in grammar. An adult's well intentioned criticism could act as a deterrent to write to express oneself freely. Just as they need to be told the difference between right and wrong, they need to be told about the need for proper grammar.
Grammar is simply not just about correctly conveying the intended meaning but also with some beauty in the way it sounds. After all, languages when spoken with good diction and written with carefully chosen words sound beautiful.
Muriel Barbery in her amazing book The Elegance of the Hedgehog describes the importance of grammar in the most exquisite manner. She says,
"...grammar is a way to attain Beauty. When you speak, or read, or write, you can tell if you have said or read or written a fine sentence. You can recognise a well-turned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are applying the rules of grammar skilfully, you ascend to another level of the beauty of language. When you use grammar you peel back the layers, to see how it is all put together, see it quite naked, in a way."
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