Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Styles of Grammar

When I was a little girl and in school, I could have sworn that my teachers presented grammar as set-in-stone rules. The way they showed me how to do something was the only way to do it. I graduated from high school and moved on to college, and no one ever said anything different.

Well, guess what? I moved into the business world and attended a training session that provided me with a "Duh!" moment.

Latin grammar never changes because Latin is a dead language. Dead? Yes. Because there's nowhere in the world where people actively speak it, so it never changes.

That doesn't work with English. English is a vibrant, ever-changing language. It's the official language in several countries, and each one manages to tweak it in their own way. For example, in 2007, the word Woot was the Merriam-Webster Dictionary word of the year. If you follow the link you'll see what it means. But do you know where it came from? We Owned the Other Team. It's a gaming term that's now being used by people who aren't gamers.

Snarky is another word I like. I heard it for the first time when I became a moderator at the Leaky Lounge. Many of the other moderators are British, and that's been mostly a British term, according to Dictionary.com. But I'm hearing it a lot now, both from people I associate with and on American television and in American books.

But everyone needs to know there are different styles of grammar. And the rules are different, depending upon the style you're using. When I teach classes on grammar, I suggest that my coworkers choose one style and be consistent. At work, we use the Gregg Reference Manual. This is business oriented, but it's still a good resource about grammar rules. They update every five years to keep up with trends.

Notice in the following (hilarious) video the reference to the Chicago Manual of Style. They aren't talking fashion.

So where are your grammar strengths? How about your weaknesses? What resources do you prefer to use?

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