7.6.12

Romanus Eunt Domus? No...Romani Ite Domum. Or, the Importance of Grammar in Novels

This video was posted today by a bookstore I follow on Facebook in Snohomish, Washington, Uppercase Bookshop. As I enjoy studying Latin (not that I'm remarkably talented in it, but have more a stubborn determination to learn the language), I got a laugh out of it.






But another post on Facebook made me writhe. 






Can anyone tell me why?


Call it the grammar Nazi in me, but "your" and "you're" mistakes drive me absolutely MAD. I don't always get the grammar rules correct either, and I'm sure I make a lot more grammar mistakes than I say I do or think I do, but "your" and "you're" is really not that difficult. And I don't say that to sound condescending, but there's such an easy way to check whether "your" is being used correctly or incorrectly. 


If you can substitute "you are" for "your", then you're using "your" INCORRECTLY.


(That was a lot of yours.) 


So, the Monty Python video really made me laugh because Latin grammar is difficult in the best of times for me, but at swordpoint? Hilarious.


But this video also made me wish that we had Roman/some-type-of soldiers in the country/world that went around correcting bad grammar when they saw it--regardless of what was said. We let bad grammar go for so long, that when good grammar is needed, it's become an unrealistic expectation.


Call me a snob, but I cannot read a book with poor grammar. If the sentence reads awkwardly, I find myself mentally correcting it as I read. And this, in turn, removes me from the story no matter how much I'm enjoying it. When there are typos or a word is used incorrectly, I shudder. If it happens too often in a book, I can't continue to read it, regardless of the plot. 


Bad grammar is too distracting. 


I think it's sad that published writers are allowed to publish poor grammar. And I find it equally sad that some of these books sell reasonably well. It's indicative of how readers settle for mediocre writing because the story is interesting enough. Is it too much to ask that writers abide by the *laws of grammar? That writers use a dictionary when they don't know for sure what a word means? That typos in one edition be corrected for the next? That writers be expected to NOT violate point of view rules? (Okay, maybe that last one isn't really a grammar issue.)


I know my expectations for the written word are high. I rarely find a book that satisfies me, and that's the price I pay for having such high expectations all around. I want a provocative plot, compulsive characters, and great grammar. I don't want to have to settle--and when I do, I always walk away with a bitter taste in my mouth, thinking to myself, "That was an okay book, but it could have been much better."






*I'm well aware of the philosophy of knowing the rules so that you can break them. But there are rules for a reason, and you can only break the rules when you know them well and know how to break them. But that's really a discussion for another post.