words on a page

With the Booker freshly sorted, the long list has just been announced for the Australia-Asia Literary Award. It looks like an interesting mix of stuff. One of the nominees is Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year which is just out in paperback. Probably about time I got round to getting it though my “in progress” pile is becoming ever larger. Admittedly I hope to at least have Pratchett’s Nation out of the way in the next few days, perhaps followed by Carr. After that I dunno, though I need to get back to the People of the Book and Arabesques.

Also in the news is a proposal to return grammar [PDF, 162k] to the schools once more; a step I applaud. I was never taught grammar when I went through school and what grasp I have is the result of reading lots and lots of books ie being reliant on other folk getting the grammar right. I usually have a reasonable sense of whether a sentence is rightish (though I have a propensity to leave out words which does not assist with comprehension) but am often unable to say why a bit is right or wrong. There’s been many, many occasions throughout my working life when a grasp of grammar would have been invaluable.

I wish I’d learnt latin too.

2 thoughts on “words on a page

  1. It is difficult to articulate why a sentence is “wrongish”. The grammar that is/was often taught is made up of prescriptive rules that often don’t fit with the actual rules that we have embedded in our brains during language acquisition. And then notiions of correctness get caught up with the natural evolution of languages.

  2. English is particularly bad at times, and seems to have more exceptions than rules. I would even suspect some,if not many, of the rules were formulated in hindsight, based on usage.

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