A recent article on the Wall Street Journal recommends that we stop being particular about how we use English, forget about the technical rules in grammar and simply use what is easy and accessible to the masses. In essence, grammatical rules are merely “stylistic conventions” and we should not fuss over such technicalities.
In particular, the writer points to the constant evolution of language. The English language has changed much in the last millennia, as seen in the range of texts that have been written by Chaucer to Shakespeare to Dickens and contemporary writers of today. Language moves with the times and nowhere do we see it more than in the explosion of smart devices and social media. The use of devices and different means of communication such as text messaging and social media platforms have given rise to new styles of writing.
The use of outdated language and wordy texts found in documents such as legal contracts are now discouraged in favour of simple, clear English. This means being less fussy in grammatical structures and vocabulary but instead, to go straight to the point by making language as accessible as possible.
On the other hand, critics would argue that grammar is the logic of language. Without it, the language would make no sense and would not be understood. Grammar details are therefore, necessary in order for us to communicate so the rules dictate how it is to be done.
English has been the uniting language on the international platform. Being the bridging language in commerce, education, politics and even entertainment, it has brought people of all backgrounds and tongues together. It is necessary that rules of grammar and its usage be upheld so that the language remains accessible and universal.
The issue here is not so much about whether there is ‘proper English’ or otherwise. With the increasing numbers of non-native speakers of English, it is inevitable that the right grammar rules may not be always be applied as it is unfair to impose the rules on this group of people who do not speak it as their mother tongue. The bottom line remains that speakers of the English language need to be careful in how they use it and exercise care so as not to confuse others with their ‘improper English’.